Ephesians 4:12 – 15 “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may . . . become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
I have, somewhere in the depths of my dusty VHS collection, a video of one of Shirley Temple’s earliest films. It is a short film titled “War Babies,” and it is the cutest, most ridiculous thing you have ever seen. In it, these adorable babies in diapers are marching around with toy squirt guns, playing war and protecting the world from harm. It is cute because – well, what’s not to love? Chubby cheeks, enormous eyes, pouty lips . . . it just doesn’t get any more precious than that. But it is ridiculous because, honestly, the thought of a bunch of babies protecting the world is just plain silly.
Yet, all too often, we Christians choose to remain babies. We don’t do what we need to do in order to mature in Christ. The idea of many of us going to “war” for our Lord is just as ridiculous as that Shirley Temple film. We are too naive, too immature to offer any real threat to the enemy. When Satan sees a bunch of baby Christians trying to make a difference in this world, he must just laugh and say, “Awww, look how cute. The little babies are trying to play war.” Then, he sends in all manner of spies and enemies to lead us into defeat. Because we aren’t mature enough to know the difference, we are led away like lambs to slaughter.
But God wants us to be strong, wise warriors, not cute little infants. He wants us to grow strong in faith, so that we can make a serious difference in this world. One way we can do this is by speaking the truth to one another, in love. Imagine if a soldier were preparing to go to war, and he had some things he needed to work on. What if his commanding officer just said, “Good job, soldier. Well done.” The soldier would not learn what he needs to improve, and he would end up putting himself and others in danger.
But what if the commanding officer tore the soldier down, made him feel so inadequate that he lost all confidence in himself? That would not be beneficial, either. The soldier needs to hear the truth, in love. We can help others to grow by speaking the truth in love, and we will grow ourselves by humbly listening when others speak the truth to us.
The soldier will also become mature, ready for battle by simply performing the acts of war, over and over. It is called practice. In the same way, we Christians will become mature by serving the Lord through works of service. By practicing, we will grow in our faith. By practicing, and by lovingly speaking and listening to the truth, we will grow into the strong, mature Christians that God created us to be. Then, and only then, will we make a difference as soldiers, carrying His light into the world.
Dear Father, Please help me to practice my faith through service. Surround me with people who will lovingly speak the truth to me, and help me to humbly listen. I want to be the mature person You created me to be.