This past week, our family surrounded our youngest daughter and offered up prayers of blessing for her ahead of her move to Seattle, where she has moved for her first post-collegiate job and a whole new life adventure. I felt conflicting emotions tug at each other as she drove away Wednesday morning, with bursts of excitement and pride mingling with tinges of bittersweet longing and melancholy. Our baby has flown the nest!
While there will be many life lessons to be learned, many challenges to be overcome, and many choices to be negotiated, I have a confident sense that Michaela is mature enough to handle them with poise, leaning on her faith, family, and friends throughout this season of transition. She also is wise enough to know that when she makes a mistake, she can learn from it and benefit from further growth.
It’s funny, how for twenty-plus years all we want is for our children to grow up, longing for the day when they are self-sufficient. But then, when it actually comes time for them to move on, we want to clutch them for just a bit longer. Yet true maturity doesn’t typically arrive until they leave home and experience life’s consequences in an invaluable series of life lessons.
In today’s sermon text, Paul describes his work as an apostle. One of his duties in this role is proclamation. He writes, “It is [Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). Paul’s goal in his teaching ministry is to assist fledgling Christians in their growth in Christ-like virtues, dispositions, and actions, so that they can reach spiritual maturity and live as “full-grown” or “mature” followers of Jesus.
What does spiritual maturity or completeness look like? In the verses immediately following, Paul indicates that his purpose for the Colossians is that they be “encouraged in heart” and “united in love,” that they may have “the full riches of complete understanding” of Christ, and that no one may deceive them “by fine-sounding arguments.” He further encourages them to continue to “live in Christ,” to be “rooted and built up in him,” and to be “overflowing with thankfulness.”
As I think about my prayers this week for my Michaela, as well as for our church family, they move along very similar lines: “Dear Lord, fill us with Christ-like hearts and minds. Keep us growing in his character, both in grace and in truth. Help us to accept the responsibility to cooperate as your Spirit continues to teach us, to humble us through life’s lessons, and to cultivate in us a healthy dependance on you, a humble interdependence on our faith family, and a mature independence from the world’s fickle approval. And through it all, grant a deep spirit of joyful gratitude for your simple daily gifts. In Christ’s name, Amen”