I was awkward. I was insecure. I was out of my element. My body was in pain. That in part described my adolescence. It was said several times that these were “growing pains.” Growth can be painful, but is the offspring of life.
Whenever there is growth it stretches out the norms. It expands into territories not previously inhabited. Sometimes the structure in place is not equipped or not used to handling the additional load. It’s painful. It’s awkward. It’s hard to manage. But growth is necessary, and for a Christian it is required.
Imagine going to a doctor because you are sick. The doctor thoroughly examines you and determines that you are in fact sick. Chances are he would prescribe a remedy to cure what ails you. It would be strange to reject his treatment wouldn’t it? It would be even stranger if you became angry with his diagnosis and prescription. But if you want to get better, if you want to live, chances are you will need to submit to the doctor’s orders.
In our faith in Christ we have been given an accurate diagnosis. It is sin. It is that sin that we see over and over again in our day to day lives. We see sin in the headlines of news articles and news programs. We see sin in the lives of public figures. We see sin in the lives we come in contact with. We see sin in ourselves. Our diagnosis is clear, and it is serious. It is fatal. We have a sin problem.
But the Gospel declares that Christ has done more than given us this dire diagnosis. He has provided a remedy. He offers Himself. That is great news isn’t it? He offers life in the darkest moments in our lives. Do you feel like you have just escaped a death sentence? Do you feel like you have been given incredible life beyond what you have been able to imagine? That is what Christ offers and it is Good News!
So what does this mean? It means growth. It is a necessary component of life. After a life in death, Christ saves us so we can now have LIFE in Him. Christ does not look at His offer as an acquittal on a death sentence, and it is now up to us as newly released inmates to choose life or death. He gave us life so we can continue in life. Why would we choose death? Why would we reject our Remedy?
But what about love? Didn’t Jesus die for us knowing full well we would betray Him? Of course! But let’s go back to our doctor for a moment. If we go to the doctor and they successfully perform open heart surgery and save our life, wouldn’t they then give us a list of ways for us to grow and get stronger after the surgery? They might even tell us to cut out things that would certainly lead to death if we continued to do so. If we failed to obey the doctor’s orders, do you think the doctor would kindly dismiss those things because after all, they love us just as we are? No! They would admonish us for squandering this new life we have been given! They would be upset that we wouldn’t grow after being given such a gift. They would be mad that we chose death over life.
In this life we will be encouraged over and over again to participate in things that are bad for us, things that lead to death. But all the while Christ offers Himself. He offers life. Choosing Him once does not mean we get to choose death over and over again. It means that He is life and life cannot be found in anything else. It means that we are expected to grow. We are expected to grow because that is what live things do. It means we will have our awkward moments. We will have moments of pain. We will venture into uncharted territory where things are not known, comfortable, and secure. But we would be living. We would be growing. We would be in Christ.
So let me ask you, are you growing? Do you make excuses for your lack of growth? Do you say this is who you are, or Jesus loves me anyway? Would you consider for a moment that you are squandering the life that Jesus has given you? Would you consider for a moment that you have forgotten what it truly means to be a follower of Christ?
Another thing to consider: If we remember how awkward we were in adolescence, then maybe that can help direct us in our interactions with humanity. In our adolescence we were filled with emotion, short on intelligence, lacking in experience, uncertain of our role, and bipolar in our shifts between arrogance and self-hatred. We needed grace. We needed kindness. We knew what it was like when we didn’t receive those life giving things. So walk in grace, kindness, and love understanding that we all are still experiencing “growing pains.” But still encourage one another to grow.
Sometimes I am awkward. Sometimes I am insecure. Sometimes I am in pain. Sometimes I am out of my element. But that is okay. I am growing. I am alive. I am in Christ.