Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:14-16
Well 2 Corinthians was a one and out book, and I floated right through the book of Galatians without a single water-related passage. Pragmatic Paul strikes again. I wonder whether his writings would have been different, and perhaps more metaphorical, had he spent time on the beach with Jesus.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians is addressing a common theme for his letters. Apparently there are leaders in Ephesus who are failing the “Meribah test“. They are ultimately leading people away from God rather than towards Him by their teachings and actions. I think Paul’s patience for these leaders is growing thin as he refers to their actions as “deceitful scheming”.
The passage begins with a familiar simile comparing the new converts in Ephesus to “infants”. This is similar to language used in his first letter to the (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). In Corinthians Paul used this idea to talk about how infants have to work their way up to eating solid food (deeper spiritual truths). Here the analogy is a bit different with “the infants” being tossed back and forth by waves and winds of false teaching. In some ways this seems like a logical profession. Very young believers are focused on basic beliefs and doctrine (solid food), while older more mature believers have the luxury, and perhaps liability, of debating the finer points of beliefs and behavior.
I think Jesus’ clear command that we are to become like little children applies here. Children have the admirable ability to become immersed in whatever activity they are doing at the moment. Jesus wants followers who are equally immersed in Him, ultimately taking their lead from Him and the Holy Spirit rather other followers. This does not mean we should operate as lone wolves, shunning community with other believers, but our first priority should discipleship at the feet of Jesus.
When I was about 8 years we lived next to a pond and large forest behind. My best friends Mary, Kit, and I would spend hours playing and exploring what seemed to us like a world of wonder. We were immersed, we had fun together, and we learned many important life lessons along the way. We explored with confidence and freedom because we always knew the way home, where clean clothes, a yummy lunch, and a loving family were awaiting.
My sense is that Jesus wants us to approach our relationship with Him like we approached a day in the woods – full of wandering and wondering, but with a clear understanding of where our home really is and how we get there. We currently have only the bible, the Holy Spirit, and other faithful followers to help us along the way. Paul’s point is that we need to be careful about choosing those that we follow that are not Jesus.
This is best accomplished by understanding and uniting all of our strengths to more effectively navigate this land of oblivion together. The tricky part, that Paul is alluding to here, is discerning which contributors are helpful for our journey and which are harmful. The only sure way to do this is to understand that our destination is a “who” (Jesus) not a “where”.
Prayer: God help us to find our way to You by pursuing Your Son Jesus, with the help of fellow followers.