This past Thanksgiving, I spent the week with my eldest daughter’s family. Her youngest son is one and half years old and is my youngest grandson. It has been years since I had a child that age, and I am out of practice in such things. It is always an experience spending time with him.
He is a one-man wrecking machine. Everywhere he goes, he leaves behind a mess. He will take off a single sock and leave it where he is at. It never occurs to him to pick up a toy when he is finished playing with it. I am afraid even to mention how he eats. Yesterday, I made him a plate with what I thought was his favorite foods. He immediately threw it on the floor, which the family dog thoroughly enjoyed. It wasn’t that he wasn’t hungry. After he threw the plate on the floor, he came over and asked me to feed him what was on my plate. Even though I was looking forward to eating it myself, he got 90% of my meal.
If I looked at this little guy as a peer, I would conclude that he is the rudest person who has ever lived. He only thinks of himself. He has no idea of social norms. During Thanksgiving, he contributed nothing to all the things that I thought needed to be done in order to have a great holiday. He didn’t wash a dish, help prepare the food, do a load of laundry, or set the table. In fact, he made every one of these things more difficult for the rest of us. Strictly from that perspective, one could say Thanksgiving would have been more enjoyable if we hadn’t had to deal with his antics.
Of course, all of us know that is not the case. He made Thanksgiving so much more fun. It wouldn’t have been the same without him. I would rather feed him my meal than eat it myself.
A major reason for feeling this way is because we all know he is a baby. We don’t expect him to act like an adult. He has no idea what proper conduct is for an adult. When he does what he does, he is acting exactly like we would expect.
Obviously, I love that little dude. I am so glad he is a part of our family. I can’t imagine life without him. It does not matter to me one iota that we have to clean up after him. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It occurred to me this weekend that there is an analogy with the Christian life. We often hear that if an unbeliever wants to be saved from the lake of fire, he must do more than simply believe in Jesus for eternal life. He must turn from his sins as well. In other words, He must show at least some signs of spiritual maturity. To put it bluntly, God would not allow someone in His family who didn’t at least try to act properly.
That is ridiculous. In 1 Cor 3:1-2, Paul tells the Corinthian church that when he first came to them, when they first believed, he treated them like babies and fed them spiritual milk, the basics of the Christian life. He did not expect them to understand how they were supposed to act. They did not know what they were supposed to do.
But they were still believers. They had eternal life and were still in God’s forever family (1 Cor 1:2). In fact, even though they were still acting that way years later, Paul calls them “brothers in Christ” and “babes in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1).
When I look at my grandson, I sure hope he is not the slob he is now in ten years. I hope he has a better appreciation of others around him. But even if he is still a slob and only thinks of himself after all that time, he will still be my grandson. He will still be a part of my family.
When someone believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life, God does not demand that he clean up his life in order to stay saved (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 37, 39; 11:26; Eph 2:8-9). He does not expect a new believer to act like a mature Christian. While faith alone in Christ alone brings the new birth, growth takes time (notice the word still in 1 Cor 3:3).
I am absolutely sure that the Lord looks at a new believer in Christ in a way similar to how I look at my grandson. The Lord is glad to have him be a part of His family, just the way he is. But as I desire maturation for my grandson, God desires that His children mature into godly people.