With joy and tears, we watch as our child is baptized into Christ. He or she is so young, so trusting, so sincere. He or she has talked with us. He or she revealed such sincerity, such earnestness, such determination in those conversations. He or she was so certain that "I understand and I believe," and so urgent, so insistent about "what I have to do." And in ways that our newly baptized child could not understand, we look at those bright eyes and wet hair with a very strange mixture of joy and concern.

Will that exact faith at that moment of baptism be the faith that confronts the struggles of her temptations when she is 16? Will that exact faith at the moment of baptism be the faith that helps him with his difficult moral choices when he is 16? Is it the identical faith that she will take into her marriage as a bride and newly wed? Is it the identical faith that will help him be a positive, effective spiritual leader in his young family after his first child is born? Is it the same faith that challenges career and business demands in the 30s, mid-life crises in the 40s, the demands of transition in the 50s, and the challenges of aging in the 60s?

No. As the person grows, faith must grow. Faith must not merely grow in quantity. Perhaps that is impossible. Perhaps one cannot believe any "more" than does that young person when he or she with simple, whole-hearted trust is baptized into Christ. Just as a person matures, faith matures. That maturing process changes the person. That maturing process also changes faith.

The person develops as he or she transitions through the many levels of maturity. Each level retains the basic qualities of the person, but the development produces dramatic changes. His or her faith also retains its basic qualities, but its maturing also produces dramatic changes.

For three weeks on Sunday evenings we have examined the identity and nature of faith. This week come consider how your faith develops as it matures through these stages: the absorbed faith; the environmental faith; the moralistic faith; the awakened faith; and the faith of relationship. The series is "How To Grow In Faith Grow." The lesson is, "Growth: From Having Faith to Owning Faith."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 May 1997

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