When It’s Not Cute Anymore
In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. Galatians 4:3
Working in Urgent Care, I see many pediatric patients, witnessing a lot of behavior that should be specific to that population. Refusal to cooperate, tantrums, and noisy bodily functions are all normal activities for a two-year-old and are occasionally amusing. Usually, as children grow, parents teach them that some behaviors are no longer acceptable and, if all goes according to plan, those actions are extinguished eventually.
I also work in addiction medicine though, where I meet many who suffer from arrested development. For many reasons, it seems these patients have never really grown up or abandoned their childish ways. They’re big in size, but in they’re babies inside. Impulsive and manipulative, they throw tantrums, and seem hopelessly immature. They cannot be reasoned with, and cannot see past their own “now appetite”. I know the behaviors well because I’ve been that big boy baby. Now, hopefully on the other side, I can say with certainty that it simply isn’t cute anymore. When a child grows externally but fails to mature inside, something has gone terribly wrong.
This was Paul’s lesson in today’s passage. In it, he said that we all start out as children and we’re all, at one point, enslaved to ourselves. We follow our appetite for whatever the world has to offer because we lack the spiritual maturity to see anything else. Then, in coming to faith in Christ, we’re meant to be set free – free to grow and abandon our old ways to follow the new life. The normal Christian life is supposed to be one of liberty – not slavery.
Now though, as in Paul’s time, many of us continue to live enslaved to our childish, impulsive nature. Whether it’s drugs, sex, porn, money, status, appearance, food, popularity, success, work, shopping, or possessions, we can’t help but constantly reach for whatever shiny object the world dangles in front of us. We live for that thing as it comes to control and enslave us. In this condition, we cannot experience the lives for which we were made.
In today’s passage, Paul is the voice of the parent. It’s time to grow up. This isn’t cute anymore. It’s time to do whatever it takes to abandon your childish ways to follow God’s plan. It may not be easy or comfortable, but growth rarely is. It will however, be worth it, as you find your new life and freedom in following Christ.