So I know this may sound crazy for someone who came of age in the 90s, but I just recently watched “The Simpsons” for the first time.
After watching a few episodes, I don’t really see why it was so controversial in the 90s. (At least there wasn’t much that shocked me in the episodes I saw…don’t judge me if there were other controversial episodes.)
On the other hand, I didn’t find it as hilarious as people said. Guess cartoons aren’t my thing.
Strangely, the thing that struck me the most was that after 34 years on television, all the characters are still the same age. No one ever aged or got any older.
Think about it: by now, Bart Simpson should be in his forties!!!
Even the baby—who should now be 36 and have a job or a family of her own—is still sitting on her mama‘s lap, sucking on her pacifier.
Anyway, that night after I watched my first episode, I went to bed and started thinking about how Christians need to make it a goal in their lives never to be like baby Maggie.
Where am I going?
I’ve been about the Christian church most of my life, and I’ve observed there are several types of Christians.
Some grow in Christ and become all that He wants them to be. As they walk with Christ, they mature and become entirely different from when they first come to Jesus.
However, others seem to set baby Maggie as their spiritual example.
They get saved and join the family of God, but they never grow. They are still spiritual babies five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years after they’ve come to know Christ. They haven’t grown at all.
This is absolutely not God’s will for His people.
In Hebrews 5, Paul is adamant that God wants His people to grow and mature. In verses 12-14, he corrects people who he says should be able to teach others now, but instead, they must go back and relearn the very basics. When they should be able to eat meat, they still need to be fed milk, which is not how it should be.
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.
You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
Colossians 2:6-7 makes it clear that God’s will for His people to grow spiritually.
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
But how can we know if we are growing spiritually or doing our best “baby Maggie” impersonation? Here are some questions we can ask ourselves:
1. How is your prayer life? How much time are we spending each week in prayer?
2. What are you reading in the Bible?
3. What have you recently learned during your Bible reading and applied to your life?
4. What sin did you recently overcome after the Holy Spirit convicted you? What’s changed in your life?
5. What is the latest adventure where the Holy Spirit has asked you to follow Him in faith?
6. Can you give a testimony of how you’ve changed since you first came to Christ?
7. What has God been recently showing you during your time of devotions and Bible study that have you been able to share with someone else?
8. How are you ministering to someone else?
9. Who has grown in their relationship with Christ because of you?
Basically, how are you growing closer to God, overcoming sin in your life (cause we all have sins we need to overcome), and influencing those around you for Christ?
If these things aren’t actively happening, you should ask yourself, “Why not?”
Are you putting in the work necessary to grow spiritually, or are you content to remain a spiritual baby?
The fact is that spiritual maturity doesn’t automatically happen. You need to spend time with God in prayer, be in His Word, and allow yourself to be discipled by more mature believers.
To grow spiritually, we need to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When He brings conviction, we must repent. When He challenges us, we must follow His leading.
As we practice these fundamental disciplines, we grow spiritually. Those who ignore them stay spiritual babies and never experience all God has for them.
So what’s my challenge for this week: Don’t be like Bart Simpson or his baby sister, Maggie!
Instead, choose to practice the spiritual disciples that help you grow stronger in your walk with God and become a mature Christian!
You can do it!!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."