NO LONGER CHILDREN

 

Jesus tells us that unless we turn and become like children

we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  But notice

in what connection he says this.  Jesus says this to the

disciples and to us,

 

        -  because we are forever worried about our

           own greatness,

 

        -  because we compare ourselves with one another,

 

        -  because our hearts become anxious over the fact

            that others arenít showing us the proper respect.

 

A little child doesnít worry about its greatness,

        is not ashamed to be dependent on its parents,

 

        does not live behind a mask,

 

is satisfied to be what it is.

 

A little child is open and teachable. In this sense,

and only in this sense, we are to be children all our

days. Children of the heavenly Father - open, teachable,

dependent on Him.

 

But in every other respect we are to grow up.   We are
to grow up into Christ, to be like Jesus.

 

Not Jesus in the manger.
But Jesus the man,

Jesus the Son who did the Father's will.

 
Jesus who accomplished the work lie was sent
here to do.

 

The tragedy is, that in the one sense, Jesus commands

us to be children, we try to be men - big shots, heavies.
And where Jesus calls us to function as mature men and
women of God, we insist on remaining babies.

 

- We want to be big shots when it comes to

   our relationship with God; and there we
should be children.

 

- We want to be big shots in the sight of

  other men; and there we should be as children.

 

But when it comes to the warfare we have been put here
to live through - and win - we insist on remaining
infantile.

 

We want to go through our whole lives -

excusing our willfulness,

             our stupidity,
our pettiness,

our unreliable ways,

by saying, "But Lord, you know me.   I've never been
able to grow up."

 

But that's exactly what we're called to do. We are
called to grow up.

 

Brethren, be not children in understanding:
howbeit in malice be ye children, but in
understanding be men.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to
mature manhood, to the measure of the stature
of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no
longer be children, tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by
the cunning of men, by their craftiness in
deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth
in love, we are to grow up in every way into
him who is the head, into Christ.

 

1. A person who has grown up into Christ is no longer

    gullible - tossed to and fro and carried about by

    every wind of doctrine.

 

When a man is a spiritual baby it's understandable if he
is at times misled and talked into believing and doing
ridiculous things. God's angels have a way of watching
over spiritual babes. And there will come a time when
any man who has caused a spiritual babe to stumble will
pay an awful price.

 

But I see people who have been following Jesus long
enough to know better - still letting themselves get
sucked into every new gust of wind that comes along.
Either they're running around solving problems they have
neither the power or the wisdom to cope with, or they're
forever delving into some new doctrine or pursuing some
new mystical experience or finding some new "New Testa-
ment Church" that claims to be the only one.

 

What's really happening is that they're letting themselves
get corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

 

- They're getting away from Jesus Himself
into experiences, doctrinal positions,
exotic ministries.

 

- They're drifting farther and farther from
the Cross and the Blood and the living Word

which Jesus still speaks to their hearts if
they'd only listen.

 

The message of the Spirit to such people is,

"Make up your mind. Do you want to grow up
into Christ and be a man or woman of God, or
do you want to spend the rest of your life

as a gullible babe tossed around by the winds
of the hour?"

 

2.   A person who has grown up into Christ has emerged
from the world of fantasy into the real.

 

A child's imaginary world is wonderful.

- It can picture beauty in the midst of
 squalor.

  - It can see enemies lurking behind every tree.
  - It can hear music that isn't there.

 

But when the child grows up and becomes a man,

 

- he no longer allows his imagination to
turn his life into a dream or a nightmare.

 

- He no longer retreats into the world of
fantasy to escape his problems.

 

And as we pass from spiritual infancy into manhood and
womanhood, the same thing must happen.

 

Shortly after we were reborn, many of us entertained

fantastic ideas about ourselves and what we could do.

We thought of ourselves as budding healers,

prophets,

                                                gifted problem solvers,
                                                heavy teachers,
                                                evangelists that were
going to set the world on fire. Our imagination was at
work in us the way it's at work in any child.

 

Perhaps alone in our room, kneeling in prayer, we
pictured ourselves casting out demons all over the place,
raising the dead by the dozen, and with the intuition

of children, we managed to evade putting these fantastic

ideas about ourselves to the test, kept the pretend game

going (and many of us are still at it).

 

But the time comes when we have to drop the fantasy and
face reality, and admit that we are living in a world
where nothing is that simple. Nothing is simple but our
relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

And we have to accept the fact that God didn't send us
to go charging around doing dramatic things - at
least
not yet. God sent us to work in His vineyard in simple
down-to-earth ways.

 

- If we haven't even learned how to handle

  money faithfully, how are we going to be

  safe with the power to heal?

 

- If we haven't learned to open our eyes

  wide enough to see the world as it is,

  how are we going to bring the gospel to

  bear upon that world.

 

Behold, I send you as lambs
among wolves,

Be wise as serpents and innocent
as doves.

 

3. A person who has grown up into Jesus Christ is no
longer governed by moods.

 

How pitiful to see believers who have been walking with
Jesus for some time,

- still indulging in tantrums, spending days
on end in a pout, nursing grudges,

- still jumping up and down in their favorite
mud puddle of self-pity,

- still seeing how miserable they can make the
people who have to live with them.

 

Babies waddling from one infantile mood to another when

we should long since have grown up. People who have
fantastic insight and marvelous gifts destroying their
own effectiveness by insisting on dragging their childhood emotional

behavior right along with them.

 

God puts up with it for a while. Then He says,

"Either grow up into my Son, or baby yourself
to Hell."

 

4. A person who has grown up into Christ keeps commitments.

 

Whenever scripture talks about self control, that's
what it means. Self control is not merely restraining
yourself from murder, rape, gluttony and booze.

 

-   It's making yourself do what you're
committed to do.

-   It's controlling yourself right to where
you're supposed to be.

 

Self and flesh do not control you, rather you, in the
power of the living Christ, control self and make it
obey.

 

Believers who are forever late, missing work because
they have a headache, breaking appointments they make
with others because "something else came up" or because
"they don't have a peace about it", are still babies.

How could God possibly entrust them with responsibility?

Some of us seem to be baffled by the fact that we never
last in any one place very long. We wonder why, within
a couple of years, our effectiveness seems to be gone.
Nobody takes what we say seriously any more.

Ask yourself before the Lord,

 

- Are you keeping your commitments?

- Are you where you say you're going to be
when you say you'll be there.

- Do you return what you borrow?

- When you do a job, is it done right, or

does someone have to come behind you
and straighten it out?

 

Or, does it take you three days to do a day's work because

you're forever getting side-tracted into "spiritual talk"

or spiritual meditation when you should be working?

 

5. A person who has grown up into Christ no longer quits
when the going gets hard.

 

"Lord, I want to be baptized with the Holy
Ghost and with fire!"

 

But as soon as the little fires start coming;
little trials,

little hurts and disappointments,
minor danger, they're gone!

 

"Giving all diligence to....add to self control
steadfastness."

 

Nobody expects an infant to be steadfast. But without
steadfastness no man is a man or woman a woman.

 

To be a man or woman of God you have to face the fact
that things will get rough. Jesus never promised that
they'd be smooth.

 

And don't be looking around worrying about whether the
Lord is going to lead your brother through a fire as
hot as yours or wondering whether Peter, James and John
didn't have it easier back there in those Technicolor
Bible days. Keep your eye on the road God gave you to
walk and on the Savior who walks ahead of you, suffering
flames a million times hotter than your, and keep going.

 

  - In season and out-of-season.

        - When people smile, and when they turn their backs.
        - Even when they start throwing rocks and bottles.
        - Even when brothers and sisters start dropping away,

 

Lo, I am with you always, even to the end
of the age.

 

Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and
of good courage; be not afraid, neither be
thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with
thee wheresoever thou goest.

 

So that we may no longer be children, tossed
to and fro and carried about with every wind
of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their
craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking

the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way

into Him who is the head, into Christ.   

 

Many of us have been clinging to our spiritual infancy
instead of the Cross of Jesus Christ, We've been trying
to hang on to the security and warmth and leisure, and
excuses that are permissible only to spiritual infants.

 

But my friends, God will not allow our spiritual infancy
to extend forever. The Father is telling many of us
that we now have to make up our minds. Either grow up
into Jesus Christ and
go on with Him where He leads,
or settle for a new babysitter.... whose name is Satan.

 

Take your choice.