When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
I Corinthians 13:11
Change is a part of life. Some people do not like change. I’m one of those people actually, I admit it. I don’t like new things. I actually really don’t like breaking in new shoes. There are, however, some changes I embrace. For instance, by the time high school was done, I was eager to go to college. But the time college was done, I was eager to go to the Seminary. And by the time seminary was done, I was eager to be ordained and enter parish ministry. I also recognize that technology changes and that we have to change with it in order to keep up. When I was first ordained a priest 25 years ago, I didn’t have a cell phone. Today, I couldn’t be a parish priest without one. Those of us who are 50 and older remember the old huge desk-top computers that literally took up your whole desk, with floppy disks that were almost as big as dinner plates. Thankfully we now have laptop computers with thumb drives which are more portable and less cumbersome. That is a good change. And thankfully medical technology has come a long way so that diseases that once killed people are now just minor setbacks.
Change is part of life. And change is part of our spiritual life. It has to be. Many people stop their “religious education” with the end of their Sunday school years. They have a “child-like” knowledge of God. In our careers, many of us need to go for continuing education in order just to keep up. It is a necessity. We should continue to be learning about and deepening our faith throughout our lives. We wouldn’t attempt to be a professional with an 8th grade education. So, we can’t carry an 8th grade Sunday school education through life and think that is sufficient.
When we were very young children, we learned that God loves us. And He does, for sure. We didn’t talk about God’s call for our lives when we were two. Or that we will stand before His awesome judgment seat. We didn’t understand the finer nuances of loving our enemies or that our neighbor is everyone. Yet, these are the things we are expected to do in our lives in order to fulfill God’s call for them.
In I Corinthians 13:11, St. Paul write about how when we were children, we spoke like children, we thought like children, we reasoned like children. Once we become adults, we put aside childish ways. There is, however, an important distinction between “child-ish” and “child-like.” In many ways, we want to keep our “child-like” faith—we want to forgive as easily as we did on the playground as kids. We want to include all people in our fun. These are good things. But we also grow up, we put aside “child-ish” things, like playing video games all day long, or having to be reminded to pack up our lunch. We become adults and we assume adult responsibilities.
In this unit of “where I am and where I want to be in my faith,” we need to ask ourselves are we changing in the sense of evolving and growing in our faith, or are we still living a “child-ish” faith. There is nothing wrong with a young child praying “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” As adults, hopefully our prayer life can go a little deeper, because our understanding of God goes a little deeper.
As I’m writing this message, I’m thinking to myself “am I getting today’s message wrong?” What’s wrong with a child-ish faith? The answer is “nothing is wrong if that’s all we are capable of knowing.” The truth is that most of us are capable of knowing God more deeply. We spend time learning about the latest technology. We learn how to operate “smart TV’s” and “smart phones” and all kinds of new gadgets and new technology in cars. Yet, we are hesitant to pick up the Bible and dive into it. We are hesitant to pray more deeply, opening up our souls to the Lord.
If you aren’t where you want to be in your faith, ask yourself the simple question, “how has my faith changed as an adult?” If the answer is, “it really hasn’t,” ask yourself “why not?” Is it that you haven’t allowed your faith to grow?
When I was a child, we didn’t pray at meals. We do that in my house as an adult, because I’ve come to understand that is important. We didn’t read the Bible on a daily basis. We do that in my house as an adult because I’ve come to understand it’s important. We didn’t even know what confession was, so we certainly didn’t do that. As an adult, I’ve come to understand how not only important that is but how liberating it is. I can’t believe I didn’t do that as a child. My faith is a lot more complete than it was as a child. And it still has a long way to go. I’m 50 now. If I live to see 80, I would hope my faith would be even stronger and deeper than it is today. How can that happen? Only if I change. Only if I’m willing to change.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my life. Thank You for bringing me from childhood to my present age. Thank You to those who first introduced me to You, who first introduced me to the Christian faith. Thank You for the understanding of the faith that has led me to be reading this message, to still being committed to being a Christian. Help me, in the months and years to come, to come to an even deeper sense of faith, and a deeper knowledge of You, so that I can live with greater commitment and conviction, so that I can not only know about You, but know You, and serve You. Amen.
To go from where we are to where we want to be with our faith, it requires change.