Day 24 – The Challenge of Growing up as a Grown-Up

Ephesians 4:14–16 NRSV

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Consider This

And now we come, as my friend and mentor Maxie Dunnam is fond of saying, “to the lick log.” Two massive “must statements” in this text bring it into focus.

We must no longer be children . . .

We must grow up . . .

I am tempted to leave it there for today and call us all to the fifth-grade disciplinary practice of writing these words on the board a few hundred times (or on paper) as a movement toward asking the Spirit to write them on our hearts.

I can’t help myself, so I will continue. Something happened to me on two separate occasions recently that warrants sharing, as it bears directly on the point of our text. We had a guest in our home for the better part of two months. He is an African, from Ghana, and is working with Seedbed on a technology project. His professional skills impressed me, but his profound faith impacted me. At one point about midway through the Walt Family Immersion Experience, he asked me if he could speak a word of confrontation into my life. What was I going to say? No? I braced myself for the truth. In an act of courageous candor, let’s just say he called me out on some things. In an unusual kind of way, I felt profoundly loved by this new friend.

These words from today’s text, “but speaking the truth in love,” put language to the experience for me. When we speak the truth in love we can say hard things in softening ways. In my life’s experience, it rarely happens. Too often, I am guilty of speaking the truth in anger. As the old adage goes, “The truth hurts.” Want to know the real truth about the truth? We need a new saying. How about, “The truth heals”? And didn’t Jesus say the truth would set us free?

It feels to me like that breakthrough moment in the puzzle when one key piece falling into place suddenly leads to many other pieces finding their place. What if truth can’t be known apart from love? What if, in fact, love is the truth? After all, didn’t Jesus say, “I am the truth”? Sure, propositions and information can be true, but what if it actually takes a person to be the truth. And what of love? For love to be more than an idea, it requires a relationship. Truth in love requires relationship.

Could this be our problem, the explanation for our stunted growth? We lack the kinds of relational contexts and capacities required for speaking the truth in love. As a consequence, we remain arrested in a kind of adolescent stage of spiritual maturity. So many of us grown-ups still need a lot of growing up. Let’s not reach the end of our lives and still be saying this.

You can already hear me saying it, can’t you? It’s why we must band together. If we are going to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” we must learn to find one another at a much deeper level of our humanity. We must become far more real with one another about our frailty and brokenness. We must learn to take off our masks and meet one another in our places of weakness rather than our strength. As my friend and co-laborer in this work, Mark Benjamin, puts it, “Bands lead us to show up, be real, and lean in.”

Only a few days later I heard from another friend who brought me the same truth in love. And I shared the whole thing with my band too. I think Jesus is trying to grow me up. Maybe I’m finally ready. It’s high time.

The Prayer

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who holds us together and who grows us up into the people we always dreamed we could be. Jesus, lead me deeper into real friendships where we can get to the real stuff of life. A lot depends on this. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

The Questions

How do you see and understand the relationship between love and truth?

When is the last time someone spoke the truth in love to you? When is the last time you shared in this way with another? Are you presently living in these kinds of relationships where this can readily happen?

What is it about you that keeps others from speaking the truth in love to you? What is it about you that keeps you from doing this with others?