There’s a Greek word that is close to the modern word for children. They’re no longer infants, but they still need constant care and supervision. Scripture talks about this group. It’s interesting that Jesus used this word for the disciples at the Last Supper.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As He called His disciples children, Jesus was showing that they had not yet reached their full potential. The disciples’ response to Jesus’ command to love one another in the next verse shows exactly this point.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
If that’s not the response of a child, I don’t know what is! Jesus gives a very important exhortation for the future leaders of Christianity. Yet, the only question Peter comes up with is, “Where are you going?”
This is still the mindset of the spiritual child. They hear and understand what’s being taught, but they seem to zero in on the superficial parts. You can give them an in-depth teaching on the righteousness of God, and all they come away with is – “I can live however I want and God still loves me.”
The Epistle of First John gives us the greatest insight into this stage in the growth of the believer. John uses this word throughout his letter to the church. It’s obvious, because of its frequency that those he was writing to were at this stage in their walk. He dealt with the basics of the spiritual walk.
John had to remind them that their sins were forgiven because of Christ (I John 2:12) and that now they were to endeavor to live a life without sin (2:1). He also went on to show them how and why to live a repentant lifestyle where you immediately brought your failings and sins to Christ.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7
In this verse we clearly see the Apostle explaining that they need to go beyond mere positional righteousness. They need to walk in the truth. This goes right along with what we saw in talking about infant believers. They are not acquainted with the teaching on righteousness.
At the child stage, you begin to understand about what the manifestation of the Lord’s righteousness should look like in us. In spiritual childhood you start seeing that there’s a difference between the lifestyle of God’s people and the world. We have victory over the world by the Holy Spirit in us (4:4) and we don’t worship the way the world does (5:21).
At this point we start to realize that we need to live differently than the world. We start to feel the Holy Spirit within us calling us to a deeper walk. At this stage we still don’t know how to follow this call, other than to live up to the rules we’ve been taught. We should desire to continue our growth in Christ.
Question: How do you deal with the spiritual children in your circle?
© Nick Zaccardi 2014