Our two year old is going through this funky crying, throwing a fit stage. Actually so is our 16 year old. But, the two year old has always been pretty mild mannered. He’s kind of gone with the flow and has been pretty joyful most of his short life. Lately, though, he’s been crying at the drop of a dime. He throws things, crosses his arms, puts his head down and pouts. If it weren’t so cute it would be completely unbearable.
We’ve tried to reason with him. Yeah, that doesn’t really work out. Have you ever tried to tell a child in the middle of a fit that there’s no need to cry? Or explain to them that they can’t always get what they want? Children’s reasoning is that they want it now, they should have it now.
We live in a culture that encourages us to stay as children. After all children can be controlled- told what to do, what to think and if they don’t fall in line they can be disciplined. Now, we won’t be spanked or sent to time out but our discipline is social- we can be shunned, mocked and bullied.
Children are dependent on others- they are not allowed to provide for themselves or make life decisions for themselves. But, it’s not even that they are not allowed to provide for themselves- the thought would never even enter a normal child’s mind. They just assume someone else will take care of them.
Our culture has taken the innocence out of childhood and replaced it with something perverted. There are “adult” cartoons and “children’s dramas”. The line between adulthood and childhood is more blurred than at any time in modern history. The idea of adolescence is a new idea that once meant the ages of 12-18. Now, it is understood that adolescence will extend from the time someone is 9 or 10 into someone’s mid-late 20’s.
The institutional church* continues to reflect the culture in wanting it’s members to stay as children. Sadly for some of the same reasons as the culture. We hear statements like “have a childlike faith not a childish faith”. This is typically understood as an innocent trust that God will love us and provide for us. We do not have to question His goodness. But, it ignores the reality that we do have questions that demand answers. Instead of providing depth to our faith it keeps it shallow. And a shallow faith will not, it cannot, endure the heat of trials.
So, how do we grow up and not just get old? What childish ways do we need to put behind us? No one admires an adult child- they seem funny on TV and in the movies but in real life they are scorned. And no one admires an immature, shallow faith.
I think one way that we grow up is by recognizing what childish things we still hold onto. For me, it’s in the form of a prideful and unteachable spirit. I have been told that there are times that I might come across like I know everything. This has been somewhat out of insecurity and somewhat out of a superiority complex.
Over the past four years I have been around people that I would normally have never been around in a vocational ministry setting. I always thought I would be a “full time pastor”. I could never have imagined that I would be selling HVAC equipment. But, it’s humbled me and challenged me to really live out my faith in a whole new way. I have had to learn from people that I would normally think that I’m better than. Actually two of the people that have helped me most over the past 10 years have been managers at my current job.
I was even having a conversation with my teenager where I was telling him that I’ve learned from him and the talks we have about faith. When I was a youth pastor I cannot remember a time when I really thought I was learning from a youth. I was inspired by their enthusiasm, humbled by their generosity and encouraged by their faithfulness. But, I can’t remember ever thinking that I had anything to really learn from them.
So, that’s one way I’m growing up. I don’t want to be a product of a childish culture or a childish faith any longer. I want to have a strong, vibrant adult faith that also completely trusts in God and His goodness. What about you?