Ephesians 4:14 “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.”
You used to be so cute when you were little. Do you ever look through pictures or old home movies from your childhood? Maybe you tried to help your mom do some baking, and you ended up with flour all over yourself, so that you looked like a ghost. Maybe you tried to help dad in the garage and you ended up with grease on your face like it was war paint.
When you drew pictures, they were little more than scribbles, but they ended up on the refrigerator anyway. When you started writing, you mixed up your capital and lower case letters, and your words didn’t follow the lines. The letters were all different sizes, and some were turned backwards. When you started walking, and you lost your balance, you would sit down right on your bottom without even bending your knees. It was cute and your parents loved you for it.
None of that would look so cute anymore, would it. Our parents raised us, and our school trained us, so that we would grow up. They loved us when we were little, but they didn’t want us to stay that way. That is also true of our churches. It is even true of our Savior. God gives us people who preach and teach so that we will grow up. Then we will no longer be infants.
Not everything about being children in the faith is bad. When Paul writes, “Then you will no longer be infants,” actually something more like toddlers or preschoolers, he isn’t necessarily criticizing us for going through that stage of life. Jesus even praises little children for their faith and holds them up as examples. “Unless you change, and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” he once told his disciples.
The point he was trying to get across to them is that as children, we tend to know our place with adults, especially our parents. We all have our moments, it is true. My parents tell me that I used to throw some real screaming tantrums when I was little and didn’t get my way. But I never thought that I should be running the whole family, dealing with all the bills, making all the decisions. When my parents told me something I believed them without question.
The childlike faith that trusts God without question, and let’s God be God, will serve us long after we have become great grandparents. Because he is our loving Father, he doesn’t mess around with us about the things he reveals. When he tells us he takes our sins away, we can be sure he does. When he promises eternal life, we don’t need to doubt.
But there are other voices we can’t trust so much. That’s why we don’t want to remain infants or children. We need to hear and learn more of our Father’s word–so that we will grow up.
Paul warns us about the schemers we need to avoid. “We have more fun in our worship. It’s entertaining. It’s practical. It’s filled with pretty people. It’s all about you. And, oh yeah, we use the Bible, too.” “We don’t make people feel bad about their sins in our preaching. We just try to help them live better lives.” “We don’t just listen to the Bible. God gave us a brain, too. A little common sense tells you that you can’t take everything literally. You have to let your reason be your guide.”
In each case they promise something more, but we get something less–less Jesus as Savior, less help with guilt, less comfort of forgiveness, less presence of God in our Baptism or the Lord’s Supper, less certainty of heaven–all in all, less of the kind of spiritual food that actually nourishes faith.
That’s why we need a thorough education in the basic teachings of the Bible. That’s why we need to keep coming to worship, and attend Bible classes, and dig deeper into the Scriptures–so that we will grow up. Then we will no longer be infants. And unlike our physical bodies, which stop growing someplace in our teens or early twenties, our heart of faith can keep on growing and becoming more mature as long as we live.