Two words always made me want to punch my best friend, Ryan Jordan, when we were teenagers. We’d be hanging out and I’d say something really funny, execute the perfect one liner or any other adolescent quip. He’d look at me, straight-faced and say, “Grow up.” Anger boiled.
Imagine my level of discomfort as I was reading the Scriptures the other day and Jesus told me the same thing through his teaching in Matthew 5.
**Matthew 5:48 (New Living Translation) – But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
I was preparing a message on the Sermon on the Mount (teachings from Jesus in Matthew 5-7) for a Sunday morning at Center City Church when I came across this passage. I read it and re-read it and started to get incredibly uncomfortable.
“How am I supposed to get in front of the church and teach them that they have to be perfect?” I knew this was a command I could guarantee that no person could ever achieve.
I studied, prayed, dug into writings from others, looked at other sermons and nothing really clicked with me until I pulled out “The Message” (a paraphrased translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson).
**Matthew 5:48 (The Message) – “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Grow up. Those two words just have a way of smacking you in the mouth and getting your attention. And then it clicked. God is asking me to perfect like he is perfect. My entire pursuit of Jesus is aimed toward being like him. But I always fall short. He’s perfect. I’m not.
However difficult that may seem, that’s my aim and the aim of all that follow Jesus. The aim is not to almost be like Jesus. It’s to be exactly like him. This is something I can shoot for on a daily basis. It’s a process. Learning from my mistakes. I will never achieve it on this side of Heaven, but that goal will continue to help me grow more and more like him.
When I’m selfish. Grow up, David, it’s not all about you.
When I lack faith. Grow up, David, and learn to trust.
When I fear about money/finances. Grow up, David, God provides.
When I lose my temper. Grow up, David, and lean on God when you’re wronged.
When I lack wisdom. Grow up, David, all you have to do is ask.
This verse moved from incredibly frustrating and irrational to incredibly motivating and practical. I’m on a journey toward Christlikeness. So is every person that has placed their faith in Christ. And even though these two words made me want to punch Ryan, in this context they make me want to be more like Jesus.
Grow up. I guess Ryan was right all along.