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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Getting in touch with your inner adult

More than anything else, children want to grow up.

Look at the games they play. Little girls play “house” and “dress up.” Little boys . . . well, left to themselves, most boys love nothing more than a fast game of “let’s chase the wooly mammoth – and once we’ve killed it, let’s defend it against the neighboring tribe.” (Which explains a lot, now that I think about it.)

The fact remains that children spend most of their time practicing what it means to be an adult. And as anyone who’s ever given driving lessons to a 15-year-old can tell you, most children long for the day when they’re finally out on their own.

Unfortunately, the bumper-sticker is right: “growing up is optional; growing older is not.” Not every child turns into an adult, in other words; there are plenty of people collecting Social Security who are still childish and immature.

That’s the fate Paul tries to avoid in Ephesians 5:1-20 – he wants believers to “grow up.” And the best way for believers to do this, he knows, is the same way children do this: you grow up by copying adults. Just as children practice keeping house (and chasing wooly mammoths), so too he urges believers to practice acting like God.

“Be imitators of God,” Paul says in verse one, “. . . as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Jesus loved us. . . .”

Paul goes on to list some of the ways we can “act” like adults. (He also lists some we should avoid!) If you like, you can think of them as rules for the playground – God’s tips on how to “grow up big and strong.”

But the bottom line of these verses . . . well, it’s the same question that we keep asking our children:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Pastor Greg

And remember: “A Christian should be prepared to look good on wood” – Daniel Berrigan.

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