Blog # 359 Growth / change
Whenever we are considering tomato plants, puppies, fish, bananas, corporations, baseball teams, or Christian believers, whenever we have growth we have change. The dictionary definition of growth describes it as an increase in size, weight, power, etc. The definition also says growth is gradual development toward maturity.
In growth or development, change will be involved. The word maturity in the definition struck me as particularly interesting, It implies a goal for growth. When we read the instructions in a recipe book for canning fruit or making jam we are told to use mature fully ripe fruit. There is a before and after implied when the fruit will be, underdeveloped, at is best or 'over the hill'.
God as Creator of all that exists knows all about what goes into the making of a dictionary, we can be sure of that. In fact, I think of all the books that have been published God delights in a special way in dictionaries. That would seem to me to be because a dictionary deals with and conveys truth. A dictionary does not deal in opinions or guesses. In this it reminds us of Jesus Who was sent by the Father to shed the light of truth on all of creation and say of Himself "I am the truth".
It is interesting to view the whole ministry of Jesus as a revealer of truth. We see Him opening the eyes of the blind, giving the blind man the opportunity of experiencing the truth about light and color and the special beauty light and color bring to all that is around us.
All truth is rooted in God and can be traced back to God. Only God knows exactly what that statement means, but in Jesus God experienced truth on our human level. He was like us in all but sin as the Bible tells us. Jesus knew how it feels to be hungry happy and sad. He knew from an experience like ours when a piece of fruit was ripe and how much better it was than one still on its way to maturity or beyond its peak of perfection. I can almost hear Him say of a perfectly ripe melon "That's wonderful!".
In Mark's Gospel ( 4:28,f) we find Jesus speaking this way: "The soil produces of itself first the blade, then the ear, finally the ripe wheat in the ear. When the crop is ready the farmer wields the sickle, for the time is ripe for the harvest." The Bible is not a book about farming, we know that. Then what is Jesus saying when He says what we just read? In verse 26 we have the answer: "this is the way it is with the reign of God." The truth about farming, about wheat, is how it is with the truth about the reign of God. Blade, ear, ripe wheat. Jesus is talking about growth, change, maturity, and how they fit into God's plan for creation.
Again Jesus talks about wheat shortly after His entry into Jerusalem the week before His death ( Jn. 12: 24), "I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies it produces much fruit." In the verse previous to this Jesus said "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." He is not speaking of wheat but of death. He is Speaking of His own death, already on the horizon. He speaks of it as His glory. He recognizes the difficulty in thinking about death. He will ask the Father not to let it be if that would be the Father's will (v. 28). Then He continues: "But it was for this I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name!".
It is harvest time in the Father's plan for Jesus' life. He came as an infant. He leaned to walk and talk and pray and sing and all else He was called to do on His way to the moment of His death on the Cross. All the changes that had to be made in order to be the person He was were done. He was now fully mature in God's love. It was His greatest experience on earth, His greatest love, His glory.
Each of us who have been Baptized as members of the Body of Christ ( 1 Cor. 12 ff, 10: 17) are sent as Jesus was sent (1 Cor. 17: 18) to live out the Father's plan for us in our moment of history ( Eph. 1: 10) not merely in imitation of Jesus but united with Him as branches on a vine. ( Jn. 15: 1 - 5 ). Our life is to be His life in us (Gal. 2: 20. Our death is to be our glory in Him. In death we will be at the peak of our maturity, with no more need of questions, change, or growth. " There is no greater love than this..." In this love the goal of our entire life will be attained. It will be our glory and the glory of Jesus in us forever.