“I thought I was grown” is the phrase a cousin of mine used in his testimony, as reported by his dad—my uncle. They live in a country where, at 18, you could leave your parent’s house and depend on yourself, you know, you can try those things they stopped you from doing, there’s a whole life out there for you to live, so get out there and live now that you’re grown or think you are. So, he tried it and realized that he wasn’t as grown up as he thought, he came back home, and one day, they went to church and he decided to share his testimony, and in it was the phrase “I thought I was grown”.
Living under the authority of one’s parents, one sees those things which they stop you from doing, but fail to see what they can’t do because of you, for example, my father couldn’t change his car, even though it was obvious that he needed to, for over ten years, a period in which all of us, his children, were acquiring university education. He took our education more importantly than his comfort—talk about sacrifice. You see what they don’t allow you to do, but fail to see what they save you from doing to yourself. We can talk about seeing what they do for you too, feed you, clothe you, shelter you, and educate you, paying all the bills, my right? No, but for the sake of love.
I thought I was grown is a positive statement, if followed up with the right action. It appears to me that those words would come from the lips of someone who finally realizes that he’s not grown after all. Thus it becomes necessary, that such a person makes a wise decision following that thought. My cousin went back home, not because that’s the only available choice. He could have been taken over by pride and be led to take a more awful decision, don’t like to think what that could be, but thankfully, that thought led him back home.
“In the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods knowing good and evil”, that was the promise made by Satan, the adversary, to the woman in the garden of Eden, she did eat the said fruit, because she believed the promise, only for her, together with her husband, to feel shame for the first time, they found out that they were naked, and they sought covering for their nakedness. Eve must have thought to herself saying, “He said we’d be grown”, what’s with this shame? She was deceived.
He went to the woman as a serpent, He comes to me as something else, maybe as a friend, or a teacher, maybe a brother or even my desires. It is evident in the way men live today, that the adversary employs the same strategy, and whoever thinks He’s setting Himself free from restrictions set by God, by doing what he likes, thinking He’s grown, will sooner or later find out—we can only hope it won’t be too late—that “I wasn’t grown after all, the enemy deceived me with what I like”, because he’s not going to get us all with the same things, he tempts me where I’m weak and he tests someone else according to their weakness. And so it is, that we go on, living our lives for the devil while doing what we like, thinking, “Hey, I’m grown” no one can stop me now. I’m grown now; I can party as wild as I want. Don’t give me that God says no to alcohol sermon, cigarettes are for kids, I’m grown now, marijuana is for men. I want to dress how I like, but you know you are dressing how the world wants you to dress, how do I know this? you couldn’t dress like that a year ago, suddenly, it has become your style (so said I to a brother). My point is, when my desires strongly competes for God’s wish for my life, I need to cry out for help. Help Lord! I want to do what you want. I’m not grown.
How come we see what God doesn’t let us do, while we fail to see the one thing He allows us to do even though He could have withheld it from us? That thing, as you might not be surprised to find out, is the power to choose. How come we hurt Him with what He gave us? The Power to say NO. It is only this power that could make us say yes to our desires and say no to God. Imagine if Apple created an iPad that decides to freely share files with other devices that the company wants to prevent it from doing so with, impossible that is, they made a machine that does what they want. God didn’t do that, because He is LOVE. The foundation of His government is based on Love, thus at the apex of His creative work, He created man in his own image—a being that would be capable of loving or hating Him by the being’s own choice, I don’t understand it, He does. Despite this, God knows that man can only enjoy his life to the fullest by loving Him and doing what He wants, a choice He would leave exclusively to be made at man’s own discretion, but sad it is that man believed the lie that He could enjoy life outside of God’s will—he thought he’d be grown.
God’s prescriptions are the only ones that could make man feel satisfaction to the fullest, says the king “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalms 23:1). He’ll not want because the one who is his shepherd loves him, understands his system and knows everything that would satisfy his soul, the rest of the Psalm tells how the shepherd over-satisfies him. But at a point in his life, the king thought he was grown, he was supposed to be at war but he was too grown to go, he was idle, he followed he desires, lusted after another man’s wife and had her in his bed, he didn’t stop there, he killed the man too, but God sent His prophet to him to tell him, you’re not grown David and you have a chance to admit it. (see 2 Samuel 11, 12). Praise God he admitted it, he penned it in a song, he said “Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness….wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgression and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:1-3). King David, admitted that he wasn’t grown, he did the right thing, he didn’t commit suicide, he went back to a God that is full of compassion and He pleaded for mercy, because “God will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart” (vs 17) and knowing he could live how God wants only through God’s help, he pleaded with God saying “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (vs 5). Did you think you were grown and now you realize you aren’t, David penned that Psalm for our sakes, that we may trace our way back to Jesus if at any point in life, we think we’re grown.
On the other end of the spectrum might be someone who thinks he can create a clean heart in himself, someone who thinks, hey I don’t need this Jesus before I’m good, either in the church or outside the church, rather, if Jesus truly exists, He’s the one who needs people like me to give his church a good image, talk about naturalism and self righteousness. At the center of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the idea of total surrender and dependence on Jesus, because in Christ’s plan of salvation, He does everything for you, this stands in contrast to the natural man, “We are used to the idea of work a day, get a day’s pay; be good to others, they’ll be good to you. But in heaven’s plan of salvation, we don’t get what we do deserve and in fact, we do get what we don’t deserve”1. In admonishing those who think they can establish their own righteousness in the church without depending on Christ thinking they’re grown, the word of God says “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor. 10:12), because when one has so high a view of himself, when he falls, he could even commit suicide, a more awful decision than admitting that one is not grown.
The Apostle Paul bears record of such people saying “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God”. (Romans 10:3). No man should ever think He is too grown to need Christ’s help in being righteous, for Jesus prescribes how to be righteous when He said “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Surrender, that’s the key idea. The Apostle Paul submits once again “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:8, 9). Paul admits that he’s not grown, he needs Jesus, he’s growing but hasn’t arrived, and in attempting to deny the perception of having arrived he writes “not that I have already attained or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). The simple principle Paul shares here is, though one must grow spiritually in Christ, you must never have a sense of arrival—thinking you’re grown—because, the closer you get to Jesus, the more clearly you see your filthiness. An old preacher, C.D Brooks says it thus “I am not the man I want to be yet, but I know I’m not the man I used to be.”
It is also interesting to know that even the naturalists who deny the existence of God also want to be God and establish their own righteousness. In November 2006, WIRED Magazine featured an article titled “The Church of Non-Believers”, it was about a group of men referred to in the article as The New Atheists, one of them named Sam Harris was quoted to have said thus:
“We discusss what it might look like, this world without God. ‘There would be a religion of reason’ Harris says. ‘We would have realized the rational means to maximize human happiness. We may all agree that we want to have a Sabbath that we take really seriously—a lot more seriously than most religious people take it. But it would be a rational decision, and it would not be just because it’s in the bible. We would be able to invoke the power of poetry and ritual and silent contemplation and all the variables of happiness so that we could exploit them. Call it prayer, but we would have prayer without bullshit’
I do call it prayer. Here is the atheist prayer: that our reason will subjugate our superstition, that our intelligence will check our illusions, that we will be able to hold at bay the evil temptation of faith.”2
These men actually think they are grown, they want to create a new world where the ideas generated by their own intellect will guide billions of people on how to live their lives, in simple terms, they want to take the place of God. But God also has a simple term for them, ‘fools’; “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalms 14:1). In actual fact, all that they wish to do is to create a counterfeit for everything which God has instituted which they perceive to be reasonable, but they do not want to admit the existence of God, they think they’re grown.
That I might not fall into the trap of thinking I’m grown, having a sense of arrival in my spiritual journey, there is only one way out: surrendering to the way, the truth and the life. Abiding in Jesus and submitting my heart to Him every morning, moment by moment that I may not go astray. And if I have, the Father is always ready to receive His prodigal son if his song is:
I’ve wandered far away from home,
Lord, I’m coming home
Never more to roam.
1. Lonnie Melashenko, Your Most Radical Decision, p. 31