Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.”
The picture here is actually a little funny looking. Christ is our head, but Jesus doesn’t have any growing to do. He is already God and perfect in every way. We are his body. But we aren’t fully grown yet. We are like children. Put those two things together. You can imagine a picture of Jesus’ face easily enough. Usually we see him as a man with a full beard and long hair. Imagine that full size man’s head on the body of a little boy. Obviously the picture doesn’t look right until the body has reached adulthood.
Not a single one of us, no matter how old we are, has fully matured to the point that we match Christ our Head. At the same time, it is never too early to start living and acting like a grown up member of his body. Even teenagers have played important roles in God’s plan to save the world. Good king Josiah was just eight when he became king, just twenty when he started to reform the faith of his whole nation. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in their teens when they served in the government of King Nebuchadnezzar, and chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace instead of worshiping the king’s idol.
So what does “growing up” look like? “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head…” Two things go together here: truth and love. Growing members of Christ’s own body are not ashamed of the truth. They are not ashamed to defend it. We know God’s word is truth, not just truth to keep as our own little secret, but truth the whole world needs to hear, starting with the people who are nearest at any given moment.
After all, this isn’t just interesting trivia. I had a friend in high school who knew what every airplane that flew in World War II looked like and was called. He knew how much they weighed, how fast they flew, how many men they carried, what kinds of guns and bombs they used. Fascinating! True! But if you can’t identify even one kind of airplane used in World War II, it wouldn’t hurt you at all.
We know the truth about how to get to heaven. We know the truth about what God has done with our sins. We know where to find God and his love right here on earth. That’s because we know the truth about Jesus. We know about Christmas and Good Friday and Easter all the other things God has done for our salvation. That truth is a matter of life and death.
The thing that goes along with the truth is love. When we speak the truth, we speak it in love–not to prove how smart we are or how wrong others are, but because the truth saves. The truth wins hearts and minds for Jesus, just like it won you and me. It sets Jesus’ disciples free: from sin and death and fear and doubt and everything else that stands between us and knowing God’s love. That’s why we want to grow up as Christ’s own body, to be people whose lives and words speak the truth of his Word in love.
I wish I could say that we were mature already. At most you and I are still growing. Yes, Jesus loves us just the way we are. But because he loves us, he doesn’t want us to stay just the way we are. He wants us to grow up. So stay in his word, and keep growing.