June 22, 2014.
“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 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. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
(1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
I was in class this morning and we were going over I Corinthians 13. There is something that is brought up at the end of this chapter that I think is very interesting. Paul is talking about love above all things and how prophecies and tongues will pass away and he compares it to a man growing up. What were the point of miracles? To confirm the church. So what about after it was confirmed? You don’t endorse a check twice, only once. Have you ever thought about the maturing of God’s people as a maturing person? Paul writes something else that goes along with this concept to the Galatians:
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Some versions use “tutor” or “schoolmaster” here instead of guardian. This carries the concept of teaching or learning. Indeed, Paul says he wouldn’t have known sin unless the law had taught him. The more and more I read the bible, the more I see the history of God’s people as a maturing person, and this is simply amazing. I have a picture that I sketched out to show you what I mean.
I don’t know if that makes as much sense to you as it does me, so I will try and explain it. Picture a child growing up from infancy to adulthood. There are very specific time periods in this person’s life, each period involving different ways of living and rules. As a baby comes into this world, he or she is totally dependent on his or her parents. There are very few rules in the early years of life simply because the infant is not able to comprehend rules. I see this as the garden of Eden. Man was just created to live and keep the garden, and really there was only one “do not” rule. Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
As we know, mankind failed and there was a stage where we were living with the consequences, but God was still very present. The law had no come yet. I see this as the toddler years. You tell your toddler “no” at times, but its not a set rule yet because again, they are not quite at the level to fully understand rules. I compare this to the time between the fall and the giving of the law through Moses.
Once the child gets a little bit older, house rules are laid down. I see this as the law of Moses. The law taught the children of Israel what sin was, giving them rules to abide by. More rules came than just the 10 commandments, and as the people matured, the prophets were sent to keep the children of Israel on the right path. However, just as many children (especially teenagers) are rebellious in this stage of time, so were the children of Israel. They were still in the process of maturation, being guided by the law.
Then things changed. There was a transition period. You can somewhat compare this to the puberty stage in a human’s lifespan, though I think that might imply an age a bit too early. I will call it late puberty/becoming an adult (a.k.a. the transition period). God sent His Son to the earth in this time of transition to fulfill the prophecies. There were changes that needed to be made in order to mature on to adulthood. Such changes included the gentile invitation to the kingdom and Christ in place of the law. The law was simply a schoolmaster to teach the child how to behave. When Christ came, I compare this to moving out of the house. There are no longer a set of rigid rules to follow from your parents, but the rules that you used to follow have shaped the person you are in the present. You may no longer have a curfew of 10:30, but you have learned that you should go to bed at a time that is beneficial to your functioning the next day. You may no longer get grounded for getting into a fight, but you have learned not to fight. There are still rules to be followed (lest we want to be thrown in jail), but they aren’t the same as the house rules. They don’t need to be. The house rules served their purpose and are complete.
As the child becomes an adult, there is still much to learn. The adult must mature as he or she grows older. This is the stage that I see us in today. Christ came to transition us into adulthood, and the apostolic age help us as young adults to get our feet on the ground. Now that we have the complete new testament (as some would deem “that which is perfect” that has come- see verse in Galatians above), we have the word of God in our hands. We no longer have to look dimly though a mirror to know the will of God, or at least the will that he has revealed to us. It is our job now to mature in the faith and reach out to the world to bring souls to Christ.
When you look at the history of mankind though a biblical lens and compare it to a maturing human, I think you can see some stark similarities that kind of blow my mind. I really do think that our existence is a grand narrative that is still being written, and that is one of the coolest things in the world to me. I hope I have been able to share my awe with someone here.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Suggested Daily Reading: John 1, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 3, Ephesians 4.
Grace and peace.