Our growth in our relationship with God finds a parallel in our physical development. In 1 John 2:12-14, the Apostle John described the four stages that you encounter in both.
- Infant – your sins have been forgiven
- Child – you have known the Father
- Teen – you are strong, and the word of God lives in you; you have overcome the evil one
- Adult – you have known Him who is from the beginning
Just as it is normal for babies to grow up and become fully functioning adults, God wants each of us to become adults in our relationship with Him. Let me give a brief description of each stage.
INFANT – When we first receive Christ as Savior, we are “born again” into God’s family. What captures our attention is that our sins are all forgiven. Like babies, our diet must include milk. The Bible is described as milk in 1 Peter 2:2. The church is to be a place where infant Christians are cared for and taught. The new believer is like a spiritual infant, just beginning to learn and grow.
CHILD – As we grow, we start to walk and talk. Soon we run and play and our bodies grow and get stronger. Spiritually speaking, this is the stage where we seem to be overwhelmed that God loves us and is a kind and gracious Father. It is also when we realize we have chores and learn to serve within the Christian community. The spiritual child is taking responsibility to feed himself or herself from the Word. It’s the “I want to do it myself” stage.
TEEN – John describes this stage as the time when we are most energetic and desirous to accomplish something for God. We take an active role in ministry. We spend more time getting into the Word, and getting the Word into us. We realize we are in a spiritual battle against a formidable foe, and we want to overcome with the help of the Lord.
ADULT – This stage is characterized by a deeper relationship with God. It is the time to bear and guide children. We seek to be an example to other Christians around us. In time, most of us lose the energy of youth, and it becomes our responsibility to encourage the next generation of believers, much like a grandparent.
Where are you? How would you describe the stage you are at? What steps can you take to advance to the next stage or within the stage you are at?