Summary: Encouraging folks to grow up into Christ and not be content to settle for an "adolescent" faith.

12 Year Old Faith Ephesians 4:1-16

I learned something recently that I had never thought of before... I guess it was new information to me because one of three things is true... Either kids have changed since I was was in Jr. High, or I have gotten so far along at my advanced age that I have forgotten what it was like to be 12 years old...

Or, perhaps I never was a normal kid... Since I am now such a main stream, well adjusted, healthy adult, I know it can’t be the latter, so I know it has to be one of the first two possibilities.

But, One of the things that has been pointed out to me is that kids in early adolescence do NOT want to stand out. I don’t think I am violating any confidences when I tell you that Bobbie Jo Lynn told me of two young men this year in her 8th grade class have attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Another one attained the same goal last year... At least that’s the way I remember the facts... None-the-less, that is a pretty remarkable feat. I was rather shocked to learn that these young men had reached a level in scouting that many don’t reach until much later in their scouting journey... in fact, some don’t attain the Eagle Scout rank until after high school when they have the time to devote to their project. Anyway,

in my conversation with Bobbie about this fact, I mentioned that I am sure the boys would appreciate being recognized for their accomplishment and she told me that in fact, the opposite was true. The father of one of the boys instructed her and other teachers to keep quiet about the accomplishment so as to not embarrass the boy. Further conversation about this matter with Bobbie and also talking with other teachers and folks who work with that age group

confirmed that one of the greatest desires of every 12 year old is to blend in with the crowd. The biggest goal, if not to actually be so, is to “Appear” average in every way. To be seen as successful in any endeavor is the equivalent of having leprosy in Biblical times and is one sure way to be outcast by society as defined by 12 year old standards.

After thinking this thing over and applying the same principle to the Christian faith as I have experienced it, I have learned some amazing things in the past couple of weeks. I was wondering why the church never seems to accomplish anything beyond maintaining regular worship services and participating in the community in the same way that we have always participated. We get the bills paid and we keep the

lights on and the doors open... But I wonder how much it permeates avery aspect of our lives as it really should.

In my travels I am constantly reminded that the church in the wider sense throughout our world is largely in the same situation... Sure, there are examples of extreme faith making a real difference in the world, but sadly, far too often, the opposite is true and we are content to “Blend in” and not appear to be anything other than good decent people (which, by the way, can be accomplished regardless of church involvement).

What our scripture for today encourages us to do is

something entirely different. It encourages us to grow up!

To mature in the faith, growing up into the image of Christ... If that is the goal, and it should be, how are we doing? If we are really to be people who know God in an intimate way and see his action in our lives, We have a long way to go if we are ever going to be the people we are supposed to be.

One never really knows what life will bring our way... But the marks of a true follower of Christ are described in our text for today.

A true follow of Christ will posses several distinguishing characteristics. I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we display these signs.

Those signs are:

First, that we would have unity in the faith.

Second, that we would have knowledge of the Son,

and third, that we would become mature attaining to the

whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

So, how are we doing in those three areas?

What does it mean to have unity in the faith. It certainly can’t mean that we agree on everything... When I think of unity I tend to think of agreement on issues and a peaceful co-existence with one another. But, I am certain that it cannot mean this entirely. Simply as a matter of course as human beings, we are not about to attain that state until we are together in heaven with Christ. But, we can go a long way towards this end in the present world. There are few

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