1 John 2:12-14 reads like this, “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
John here is writing to the various "spiritual demographics" that comprise the Body of Christ. We all serve different functions and bring a unique gift set into to Body - and there is a place and room for everyone. The "dear children" - you who have just been saved and have a new passion and zeal for the Lord - your zest for the Lord is needed to infuse the Body with life and excitement for ministry. The "young adults" - you who are currently doing the work of ministry and are overcoming the evil one in your families and communities - stay in the Word for strength, and continue to do the tiring work of building up God's Kingdom. You are much needed. Finally, the "mothers and fathers" - you who have known Him who is from the beginning - the Body desperately needs your wisdom, your stability, and your testimony of who the Lord is to ground the Body of Christ and to give us deep roots.
So, how does this all fit together? There is actually some very practical application for us in these three verses of Scripture. The Body of Christ is one body – not three. Each local congregation should reflect all of these elements of spiritual maturity. Can you imagine what a body would look like with all of one demographic and that only?
What would a body of “little children” look like? I can tell you – it would look and smell like our van and house if the “mothers” and “fathers” did not maintain it! It would be a “jelly bean and poopy diaper” kind of Christianity. It would be a Body who seeks instant gratification and who is very much prone to be swayed by false doctrine, and prone to give way to emotionalism and sensationalism. It would be a passionate Body with very shallow roots.
What would a body of only “young men and women” look like? It would be liable to be a very short-sighted body, with no encouragement from those outside of their peripheral vision. Those who are in the trenches see an awful lot of shovels and dirt and not so much progress. The work of the ministry can get old quickly, even by the most enduring men and women in the field. It would be a strong and capable Body with a questionable future.
What would a body of only “fathers and mothers” look like? It would be a very mature body, for sure. It would be a body with a great deal of wisdom and experience. However, the future would be very, very dim for this body. This body would be extinct and cease to have any effect within, at most, one generation. It would be a wise and mature body with no future.
So, what does this mean? This means that there is one body that works together for a common good of spreading the Gospel of Christ across this globe. This means that we will all have to endure some things that are perhaps less-than-preferable for us, but are for the betterment of the whole. Let’s just look at music, for example. Many churches today will have a traditional service and a contemporary service. I do not see this to be beneficial to the Body of Christ at all. The reason I say this is because you are separating the Body based upon preferences, and many of the “mothers and fathers” will be found at the traditional service and many of the “little children” and “young men and women” will be found at the contemporary service. The Body that functions best is the Body that worships and serves together.
There should always be some “cross-pollination” within the Body of Christ. Kids should be mixed with young adults and everyone should have interaction with the mothers and fathers. Without this, the Body will continue to remain fractured and be prone to certain downfalls, much more so than if the body was unified.
Let me encourage you to seek out intentional relationships with different maturity levels of Christians. While there may be some level of discomfort initially, there will be deep growth and lasting impact in the long run.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.