We are going through photos of Gary for a collage to be used at Sunday’s church graduation party. It has been quite an exercise in nostalgia and reminiscence. I have seen everything from his baby pictures to his senior pictures, with every stage in between the two. My how he has changed and grown! Since he was born at the end of 1993, his first several years in photo were captured the more “old-fashioned” way–pre-digital, 35-mm prints. Those pictures symbolize so many memories of what was going on in life, in general, as well as what was going on specifically in his life.
When you look in the New Testament, you see snapshots, if you will, of churches. There is Jerusalem church of Christ in multiple stages, from a flourishing beginning (Acts 2) through internal issues (Acts 5), perceived prejudice (Acts 6), persecution and scattering (Acts 6-8), and financial hardship (). The Bible doesn’t really show us what ultimately happens to this congregation, though at some point in history it seems to have ceased to exist. Ephesus church of Christ has the longest, most dramatic history of any church in the New Testament. The church was established in probably the early to mid-50s A.D. on Paul’s second missionary journey. The epistle to the Ephesians would have been written around 62 A.D. Paul wrote Timothy, the preacher at Ephesus, before he was beheaded in the late 60s. John addressed the church in Revelation, which would have been a generation later in the 90s. What a transformation occurs and not all of the changes were positive. As they went from a newborn congregation to being mature in age, somewhere they lost their relationship with God (Rev. 2:4-5).
When we look at our own lives, spiritually, we can the changes that come with “aging.” The question is whether or not this is a graceful process. Spiritually, are we growing more lovely and attractive, or are we gnarled and callused with the unchecked presence of sin in our lives. A Heavenly Father has privy to what we have been and what we have become. He loves us perfectly, but are we making Him proud? Are we making progress?