God gives the growth

Here’s my reflection from Sunday , Feb. 19:

The people of Corinth were thinking themselves far more enlightened than they actually were. They may have admitted they weren’t perfect, but they thought they were 99% of the way there.  So Paul takes them down a notch- basically tells them they are mere children in the faith- not ready for solid food, so he fed them on milk.

I don’t actually think it’s that big an insult to the Corinthians, after all, Jesus has a lot of good things to say about children, but they probably thought so , which is the point of what Paul is saying- it’s the arrogance that they think they know more than they do that is the problem, not the imperfection of their faith.

Because we are all on a journey of faith. Take a moment and think about whether you believe the same thing about God, now as when you were a child? As a teenager? What about 10 years ago? We will never understand God’s purposes fully, never perfectly follow God’s commandments, or practice our calling as Jesus’ followers exactly as he would have us. We’re on a journey. And along the journey, we learn new things, about God, about God’s children, about ourselves.

We do this as individuals, and also as a church. Yesterday, our Presbytery celebrated becoming Affirming- that is, consciously being welcoming to all people, regardless of any of the things we divide ourselves over, including sexual orientation and gender identity. It wasn’t all that long ago- within my lifetime, that the Untied Church first broke ground on the issue of LGBTQ issues.

And why, because we just decided we’d ignore the old laws and make it easier. No way- because it wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy even today. But we did it and we continue to do it today because we’ve grown in our faith- we’ve learned more about God, and how all that we know about God is seen through the radically loving and inclusive Jesus Christ. And we’ve learned more about the world and the people around us, and how sexuality and gender identity works. And we’ve learned more about out calling as Christians- as we’ve seen the pain and death that comes from marginalizing LGBTQ peoples and say- Jesus would want us to stand with these people, and realize they belong as part of us.

I think this concept of learning and growing in faith is what’s going on with this part of the sermon on the mount. If I can summarize what Jesus is saying, “You should strive for more- more love, more respect, more care for one another- than what these laws tell you to do.”

Ideally, we would approach everything from a sense of the love that God has for each of us, see everyone with God’s eyes- if this were the case, we wouldn’t need the law, because we’d never even think of doing any of these wrong things. We wouldn’t need to come to church and keep learning and growing together. But we’re not there yet- there is always more to learn, there is always more we can do so that we live the way God would have us live.

Paul points out that he planted the seed, Apollos watered and God gives the growth. Our spiritual leaders come and go, each doing their part to contribute to your learning and yet you are still here, a community of faith called to live out God’s mission in this place. God is working with you all the time, helping you grow together. No matter where we are on our faith journey- God is there.