Growing in Faith – Figurative and Literal

“Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (I Corinthians 14:20)

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11)

I have been thinking about the idea of growth in our faith – and I notice Paul uses the idea of growth from a child to an adult. That once we come to this faith we start as ‘babies’ and eventually mature into ‘adults’ in our understanding of what we are studying – I am guessing with all the same processes of real life – from child (being told what is true) to teenager (knowing all the answers) to young adult (questioning what you thought you knew) to adult (maturity that is a partnership with God?).

I am using Paul’s idea metaphorically of course – but it does help with developing a picture of what our faith should look like. I love how Paul does question the idea of thinking maturely (likely in regards to ethics) but I think it has another aspect to it – going from one understanding to one of more depth. Just how mature are we?

My thought on this is simple: growth in this faith needs to result into a place where we take full responsibility for our understanding of this faith (and what it means to us) – and instead of ‘letting go and letting God’ – we take our end of that partnership – we grow into a place where ‘God lets go of our hand – to see us walk’.

I am thinking about this in a logical growth pattern – as how a parent treats a child (even while they grow). It would be absurd for your own parents to keep parenting you as a young child while you are an adult – at some point you accept the role of ‘decision maker’. This puts the responsibility for ‘what you do with what you know’ where it belongs – with you.

So do you think our faith is like this? Are we growing to a point where God allows us that much responsibility – as in a friendship with God? Can He trust us that much?

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34 thoughts on “Growing in Faith – Figurative and Literal

  1. I understand what you are saying and I view my growth in the same way but I see the end of it differently. God created Adam and Eve simply to have fellowship with them. He disired relationship with us so much that He gave His own Son to restore it. As a parent of sons who have rebelled and broken our relationship, I know that it was I who had to privide the forgiveness that enabled them to return and restore that broken relationship between us. I no longer rule over them as children but I still desire close relationship with them and I know I will never let go of that. They will always be my children and they are not required to perform fo me, I just want to enjoy them and they me.

    I spent the first part of my life getting a hold on things and gaining control of my life. The second half is a process of letting go. You are still young and strong and you perspective is from your own strength. Mine is from ever increasing physical weakness. In Christ I am still becoming but I am not becoming in the way that I imagined in my youth. The physical decline of age gives us a better picture of how small we are in the grand scope of things and how little we are able to change anything and how utterly dependent we are upon God and how utterly capable He is at handling everything.

    Don’t discount the wisdom of small children. Unless we become like them, we won’t enter the Kingdom of God. God will be able to fully trust us, I think, when we trust Him fully with the trust of a small child.

    Pam

    p.s. Anyway, I’m closer to finding out the truth of all that so that is what I’m hoping as I spend my days wondering where in the heck I put my glasses!lol!

  2. I think the human parent-child relationship is the closest we can compare how we relate to God but there are major differences. We are and will be completely dependent on God at least until we are resurrected. After that I of course have no idea. I try to learn a bit more about Him each day, but for now I can only wonder in amazement at His glory.

  3. “We are and will be completely dependent on God at least until we are resurrected.” (Ken)

    But do you think God would prepare us beforehand for that moment of responsibility in ‘heaven’ – while we are still on ‘earth’?

  4. “But do you think God would prepare us beforehand for that moment of responsibility in ‘heaven’ – while we are still on ‘earth’?” (Society)

    That is a tough question for me to get my head around. You see, I still wonder if the Seventh Day Adventist view I was taught is correct, that we will not be angels floating around up in the cosmos somewhere. Rather there will actually be a new heaven (stars and universe) and a new earth and we will all be on that new earth with human bodies. So if that is eternity, then it is just as important that we work at improving our ability to love one another as it is to work on our relationship with God. I find it hard to visualize be human, have babies and such, and yet never grow old and die. But I also can’t imagine that we are going through all this process of learning how to live as humans and then spend eternity in some other realm.

    Does this mean to grow up as in mature, or grow down as like children? I think maybe both?

  5. Ken,

    I believe that Christ will return with the church and the Kingdom promised to the Jews will be established on earth for 1,000 years.(I believe when we die we are asleep in Christ until that time) After that is the new heaven and new earth, the eternal state.

    Our view of future events really affects what we believe our purpose to be.

    Pam

  6. Pam, that lines up with the SDA’s except for the thousand years. If you have any references to this thought that the Kingdom promised to the Jews will be set up at this time on the earth I would like to check it out.

    “Our view of future events really affects what we believe our purpose to be.”

    If you mean in the prophetic sense, I’m not with you on this one. I love to study biblical prophecy but am suspicious toward current day prophets, no offense intended. Am I way off base?

  7. Ken,

    You should be suspecious. There’s a lot of counterfeits out there. I had my own view of eschatology long before I met Timothy. I can’t judge what He says God has gifted him to do. I just measure his words by the Bible and I’ve come to know him as an honest man. I only scrutinized the guy for about a year before I decided he was okay. Poor kid!lol!

    You know how the context of a verse makes so much difference in how it is understood? That is how eschatology is formed, it is scripture interpreting scripture until one builds an over-view that puts the entire Bible into context. I was just told the other day that my view is much too complicated and it is complex. In the 1800’s there were quite a few people who believed as I do but people in general don’t put the study time in so we are few. Some evangelicals hold a simular but simpler view.

    I will get some scriptures together for you though. Maybe it would be better if I posted them at your site?

    Pam

  8. Wow, Society, powerful analogy here – and you put it into few words. “Can He trust us that much?” I think when you see that in Gen 1:26-28 He charged us with ruling over His entire earth that, yes, He not only can trust us that much, but expects it. I’m with Ken in that I don’t see us floating around forever as spirits detached from matter, but the kingdom is and will be real, lived out on the new earth.

    The maturity you speak of is the one I strive for.

  9. Jason,

    I had one other thought in regard to your post. Jesus was thirty years old when He began His ministry. I think there is a completed maturity that most of us reach at thirty perhaps, that is also the amount of time it takes to reach spiritual maturity.

    Pam

  10. Ken,

    I’m having problems getting on your site to comment. I guess I have a google account the problem is I’ve forgotten that I have one…

    Give me some time to find it.

    Pam

  11. “Our view of future events really affects what we believe our purpose to be” (Pam)

    I am with Ken on this – how so? For the good or for the bad? Both?

    “(I believe when we die we are asleep in Christ until that time)” (Pam)

    If we are asleep for a 1000 years we wouldn’t know – we’d be asleep – so wouldn’t it feel like a day had passed?

  12. Yes, both. If we are concerned with our destiny only, we will have a very self-centered faith as a result. If we learn to see the bigger picture of God’s plan for all and our place in it, our hearts are opened wide to others and our own importance is kept in perspective.

    No, you misunderstand the second part. I mean that if I should die today, I would sleep in Christ until He returns for the gathering in the clouds of His church. Sometime, after this, He will establish His Kingdom visibly upon the earth and rule with a rod of iron for 1,000 years. I don’t believe in the traditional heaven and hell which I see as a condenced and simplified version of what the Bible actually teaches. I really don’t know much about our time between this life and the establishment of that Kingdom that we in Christ are now subjects of in Spirit that will be physically manifest in the age to come. The Bible says we will sleep in Christ, Jesus told the theif on the cross that He would be with Him in Paradise, and Jesus also tells that in His Father’s house there are many Mansions. I guess we rest in Paradise in our Father’s mansion until He needs us to go to work again. The time of rest will vary for everyone.

    Pam

  13. Pam….

    In the 1800’s there were quite a few people who believed as I do…

    People in the 1800’s believed a lot of things… slavery, ethnic prejudice, women shouldn’t vote, scientific understanding was much less than it is now, etc… just b/c someone believed something at one point doesn’t necessarily make it truth. Our understanding as a society grows and matures in the same way we grow and mature.

    …but people in general don’t put the study time in so we are few.

    I read this as “we are right and everyone else that has a different understanding is wrong”. Certainly people have put in just as much study as you and drawn different conclusions. Is that not possible and could they not also be as correct as you claim to be??

  14. You are reading it wrong John. My understanding of scripture will tell you something about me. It might enable me to give a more accurate depiction of God but mostly it depicts me. My understanding can’t contain God. I can’t give that understanding to anyone else. I can’t give anyone God. We each have to seek God on our own and develop our own understanding of Him. It is a reltionship and that requires effort on two sides.

    All that I meant was that there were quite a few people in the 1800’s in the U.S. who had a Biblical Universalist view of scripture. It is a complex view as it does not throw aside any scripture that seems to contradict but instead seeks to reconcile them as the Holy Spirit reveals. It takes a lot of time and study and revelation.

    “Let God be true and every man a liar.” I am no more correct in this life than anyone. Only God is correct and I’ll never even be able to read the whole Bible with complete comprhension let alone have a perfect understanding. I thought we were discussing differing views not proving our own Biblical prowess.

    I’m not going to fight with you.

    Pam

  15. Why would you think I am trying to fight with you? I feel my questions were legitimate and fairly non-confrontational. They oppose you, my views differ from you, but this alone doesn’t mean I want to fight?

    I am no more correct in this life than anyone.

    I don’t think you believe this even as you state it. It sounds nice. Is even the man who doesn’t believe in your God correct?

    I thought we were discussing differing views not proving our own Biblical prowess.

    Unless one is as educated or tapped into the HS as you (or your prophets) think you are, it doesn’t seem to me that you take their views legitimately. That’s what I have observed. I might be wrong.

    But back to my point. Simply because people believed in the 1800’s the Biblical Universalist view doesn’t validate it. You are the one that brought that up as support for holding such a view…not me. I am not looking for a fight, but an explanation of your logic for what you believe.

  16. Steve,

    I don’t need human validation. That would drive me crazy trying to get. We humans are fikle, we validate one view one moment and change our minds in the next.

    Of course I believe in what I believe. Otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it.***shrugh**** I am as correct in my beliefs in this moment as it is possible to be. I will change somewhat tomorrow as I grow. I am not Timothy or Trent either, I’m me. Our unity is faith in Jesus Christ. There are many things that we differ upon.

    I try always to listen to others tell me where they are with God and I accept what they say about themselves. I certainly can’t tell them.

    I believe what I believe because Jesus was revealed to me about 30 years ago and it completely changed my life. He continues to change me as He reveals more of Himself to me. I love the Bible and I’ve been studying it a long time. The whats of my faith are based on the Bible and the way I understand it. I didn’t mean that people were smarter in the 1800’s just that the understanding I have now was not so uncommon then. Today many Christians have a more Armenian view or Calvinist view or Unitarian view. Current popularity is not validation either.

    I have only known one person who claimed to be gifted as prophet and that is Timothy. I thought is was pretty hoaky at first. Over the last year, I have found him to be an honest and sincere young man and I can find nothing in his writings that refute scripture. I don’t follow Timothy. He is my brother in Christ. My relationship God through Jesus Christ is where I get the guidance I need for my life. No one stands between me and God.

    As far as others, I try to refrain from passing judgment upon others. I enjoy people from various faiths and all walks of life. I don’t want to make clones of myself. I can think of nothing more boring.

    Pam

  17. People (especially Christians) were not smarter in the 1800’s than they are now… this much is certain. Some of the things believed by them would be laughable by today’s standards…especially by society’s standards today.

    An enlightened Christian of that day in the Southern part of our country no doubt had slaves. Today that would be unthinkable, yet many of them justified their actions using Scripture. Certainly, you and I can pass judgment on people today who would think that slavery is correct (although it is supported in the Bible).

    This post is on maturity. I believe the church matures as the society matures. The church certainly isn’t at the forefront of social change – which is one of the reasons it isn’t growing. Without the scriptures we would still have morals as a society. One can’t argue that the Bible is a moral book when it supports so many things we consider immoral today. As society evolves (I know that’s a dirty word) we change our viewpoints on things. Don’t you think that’s a good thing even if at one time the church fathers and the Bible supported alternative and even more barbaric views?

  18. Steve,

    I don’t think the Bible supported slavery, it just deals with it as a reality. It is still a reality even in this part of the world. I’ve read that up to 20,000 children are smuggled across our southern border every year to be used as sex slaves. Many other illegals are given food and shelter to work on some construction crews. It is barbaric but it is a reality. People passed judgment on slavery in the 1800’s too but it continued much in the same way people do with abortion today. People either confront their own sin while reading the Bible or they try to use it to justify it depending upon how accepted the Bible is as a moral authority during their time.

    I didn’t choose to be a Biblical Universalist. That is where God in my life and the study of scripture brought me. I find myself here as I have matured in Christ.

    I believe that the chruch matures as individual mature in Christ. I can find no Biblical support for the church being a vehicle for societal change. We are to be salt and light but that is concerning the things of God and not the world.

    Certainly the Bible is a moral book that puts forth the morals of God. The world has their own morals and those are usually issued from human desire. Gee, I didn’t know ‘evolve’ was dirty word…some of our viewpoints have changed in a positive way and some negative. I still believe that humans have a hard time making good choices between good and evil because we are subject to good and evil and not able to find an objective vantage point. That is why we need God. He sits above good and evil and can see clearly the proper choice. That is why the Bible is such a blessing to humankind and has survived as a moral guide for so long.

    Anyway, Jesus didn’t die to give us good morals. He died so that He could give us Life.

    Pam

  19. Check your Scripture and you will find many instances where the support and acceptance of slavery is evident. Not only that, it isn’t readily denounced and you would think that a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever…if he hates slavery today, he would have led his people to denounce it unequivocally in the Bible somewhere along the way.

    And I think it is interesting that you say you didn’t choose to be a Biblical Universalist but that God brought you there. Isn’t that just semantics?? You chose to read, you chose to study, you chose to discover, you chose against other views… certainly you chose something didn’t you? Or is it just chance? Or maybe you would say providence?

    Also… I could certainly argue the morals of God were pretty warped in his OT days. Admonishing the murder, rape and pillaging of people he was seeking to defeat or who opposed him. Interesting moral guidance wouldn’t you say? When I read stuff like that I feel much more mature than God. (I know, I know… his ways are higher than ours… but are they really??)

  20. I think the real issue here is do human being judge God or does God judge human beings. I am of the second school and you appear to be of the first. I hold a high view of God. You hold a high view of human beings.

    I think this is a tussle that will never have an end. I am from Venice and you are from Mars.

    Live long and prosper!

    Pam

  21. I tend to hold a high view of truth. Isn’t that a pursuit worth discussing?

    I have tried to be respectful. Maybe you are just tired of me. I certainly understand that. I get tired of me too.

  22. I could certainly argue the morals of God were pretty warped in his OT days. Admonishing the murder, rape and pillaging of people he was seeking to defeat or who opposed him. Interesting moral guidance wouldn’t you say? When I read stuff like that I feel much more mature than God. (I know, I know… his ways are higher than ours… but are they really??)

    As a Jew I get quite tired of this near constant litany against our Torah. Thousands of years of Jewish study and wrestling with the texts is ignored in order to hold on to what Christianity teaches about our texts; teachings advanced in order to support its contention that the world needs Jesus to be between them and that horrific God of the Jews.

    But, does slapping a sugar coating of Jesus onto God really make God that much better for you?

    To say we Jews view Torah somewhat differently would be an understatement….

  23. Steve,

    Lighten up. I didn’t call you disrespectful and I wasn’t trying to be either. I’m tired for today and I was making a joke. We can try again another day.

    Pam

  24. I suppose I should clarify, I used ‘you’ in the general sense of Christians who hold to the view that the God of Tanakh is that ‘God of wrath’, not ‘you’ as in Steve.

    Perhaps, you, Steve, have indeed evolved to a higher moral level than God is portrayed to have had in some of the stories of Tanakh. Or perhaps God was given a bad rap by those who wanted to justify their actions by slapping a ‘God sanction’ on them. Perhaps there is much more to it all than meets the eye?

    If God is evil I don’t see how attaching an all good Jesus to God makes God any better. Now it seems like some Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde God. Perhaps something is being missed.

    I personally don’t see Pam as trying to cover up anything, or whitewash anything. Her view is consistent. If Jesus was perfect, God must be the same. As a Jew, my views are obviously quite different from hers as relates to Jesus, but I have to respect that she has worked through things to reach that consistency, even if her ways of doing so are totally not mine.

    I see SocietyVS working at reaching some consistency as well. I find it interesting that this crazy Jew’s views of Torah are some of the very things helping him figure things out as a Christian.

    I just think there is so much more to Tanakh than most people realize, perhaps even me. Hope that clears things up a bit. I don’t want you, Steve, to think I’m going after you personally.

  25. “Not only that, it isn’t readily denounced and you would think that a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Steve)

    What about the Exodus though? This is in the beginning of the whole bible – in the Torah – and it seems to me God despised the fact the Jewish nation was in slavery – so much so – he even sent Moses as a rep to denounce the condition (someone in person to see this institution denounced). To me, and this is just my take, God does not seem happy with that situation at all (we even see the downfall of the nation that supported it in the story).

    The NT is ambigous at best about slavery – not neccesarily in support of it – but then it depends how we want to read that all (perspective). I cannot find Jesus supporting the institution of slavery – nor Paul for that matter. Actually Paul goes so far at one point to call slaves and freemen equals in this faith. So I have a tough time saying the bible even supports slavery – but I don’t have a tough time saying people in history (including the USA and Europe) used ambiguity for profit.

  26. “Thousands of years of Jewish study and wrestling with the texts is ignored in order to hold on to what Christianity teaches about our texts” (Yael)

    To their shame, Christianity has for the most part only picked at certain OT texts where it suits their goals. Other than that the OT is rarely mentioned. I don’t see them as you do yael, but I will agree that Christians make a mockery of the OT texts.

    Hey, one thing we can agree on maybe πŸ™‚

  27. Lighten up. -Pam

    Cool… a little spunk from Pam. I love it. I didn’t know you had it in you. Lurking beneath your sweet “Christianese” mouth is a bit of sassiness. I think that’s great… Now I know we can be friends!!

    If God is evil I don’t see how attaching an all good Jesus to God makes God any better. – Yael

    I would certainly agree with that.

    And also Yael, I don’t things personally. And if I do, like the God in the OT, I just get revenge. πŸ™‚

    SocietyVS… certainly, but you can’t find Jesus saying anything against it either. (Actually, Jesus isn’t recorded to have said very much of anything). And my point about things like slavery was that you would think that and all-knowing God, knowing the evils to come in this world and how this book was to be revered…might have wanted to include a clear-cut teaching on such an important social issue like slavery, or equality among the races, or homosexuality (and regardless of what some say, it’s pretty ambiguous on that topic as well).

  28. “And my point about things like slavery was that you would think that and all-knowing God, knowing the evils to come in this world and how this book was to be revered…” (Steve)

    I would say that’s the same thing with the good ideas in the gospel’s, letters, or even how Yael looks at stories in the Torah – the point is there to be figured out and worked on by us (but it is there).

    For example, look at all the parables in the gospels – these aren’t exactly direct ideas we can use – they need to be deciphered – and isn’t that way it all works out (which is really the fun of the whole thing). Also ‘love your neighbor as yourself or do unto others’ – nothing really direct there to do either – yet if we apply those ideas into real life – we start building what it is those things actually mean (or how they look).

    Now I can say the same for a lot of the weird interpretations that come out the bible – from whoever and wherever. It all depends what you focus on. Again the parables make a great example, Jesus always use a ‘pro and con’ individual in the stories – why? To make the story stick in your mind – so you remmeber how ‘good’ the ‘pro’ person actually is. Yet some can focus on the wrong thing like the ‘con’ person in the story and use his example as a teaching device (which was not even the point). And this happens in a lot of interpretation also – for example – as some look at the ‘literalness only’ of passages not seeing the spirit of what is there (or the intent). That’s why the example of the Exodus is very direct about slavery and oppression – it is not a good thing – but it depends if you look for the literal words or the actual intent.

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