Summary: As followers of the risen Christ, we are expected to grow in our daily walk becoming mature and attaining full stature in the image of Christ.
Grow Up – Ephesians 4: 1 - 16
Intro: I found this interesting poem while researching this sermon. It sounds a bit like another poem you might recognize; but, listen closely. I think you will hear a difference.
One night, I had a wondrous dream;
One set of footprints there was seen.
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
“Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones.
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.
You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk-of-faith you would not know.
So I got tired and fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt,
Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”
(Poem found on Sermoncentral.com – author unknown)
The one line of that poem that caught my attention was “You disobeyed, you would not grow.”
I. There is so much “preachable material” in this passage from Ephesians. But I believe verse 13 is at the center and heart of the entire passage.
A. In John 3:3 Jesus tells Nicodemus: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of god unless he is born again.” You’ve probably heard the words “born again” many times. Perhaps you even struggle with whether YOU are a “born again Christian.”
B. There are many who will be happy to give you day and date of such a “born again” experience in their lives. It usually goes something like this: “I was walking along the street one day eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I heard a voice call my name. There was no one within sight and somehow I knew it was the Lord, himself, who was speaking to me. I said, “Speak to me Lord, for I am lost.” And the voice responded, “How about giving me a bite of that sandwich.”
C. I don’t mean to put down or belittle that type of experience. For some believers in Christ Jesus, it is a very real and valid testimony. But the first question that pops into my head when I hear someone share such a testimony is, “but, how have you grown since then?”
II. I believe, as followers of Christ Jesus, we are expected to grow in our daily walk with the Lord. In fact, verse 13 urges the body of Christ to become mature and attain to full stature.
A. I propose, if coming to Christ is being born again, then it is logical to assume that we must grow and mature in Christ. Full maturity for the Christian is never reached until we join Christ Jesus in heaven. The expectation of continued growth never goes away.
B. What family welcomes an infant and anticipates or encourages that child to remain a child forever? It’s not a requirement for entering the family; but, it is the hope and expectation that every member of the family will grow to maturity, each at their own pace.
C. Let’s say you buy a tomato plant. You bring it home, plant it in good soil, water and nurture it. But, the plant never grows to maturity and you never get any tomatoes. What are you most likely to do with that plant? It is our expectation that the plant will grow to maturity and bear fruit that we might enjoy. When that doesn’t happen, we are, at the very least, disappointed.
III. The Greek word (teleios) is used here. It implies a wholeness, perfection and completeness. Growing up in all aspects in Christ Jesus is a life-long exercise.
A. Growth implies change that may not always be pleasant, but is understood to be worthwhile. A growing Christian is one who is willing to seek to produce fruit.
B. Growing Christians are continuously learning to utilize their gifts, abilities and talents to the glory of God and the building up of God’s church in the world.
C. Growing Christians are those who reach out and take opportunities to lead, feed, and enable others to join them in the unity of the Holy Spirit to “be all that they can be.”
Conclusion: We are challenged to “grow up!” Are you thinking, “what can I do? I don’t have any useful skills. I’m not smart enough. I’m too old. I’m too young. I have a disability. I don’t have enough time. Isn’t that someone else’s job? Each of us is expected to grow up in the body of Christ. Grow up by maturing in our faith daily by studying God’s word, sharing that Word and humbly serving others in the unity of the Holy Spirit.