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Editorial: We’re Big Kids Now

Editorial by Olive Hemmings

I recall one day sitting on the steep, red oak-stained, concrete front steps of our tiny, rural home in Jamaica on long, carefree days full of wonder and expectation. My twin brother, J. Olive, and I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old because our younger sister was not yet born. On this fine day, mother gathered food for dinner from lush crops surrounding the house and firewood to cook in our homey, outdoor kitchen.

The fowls “cackled” as they lay eggs, the dogs playfully barked, somewhere a cow mooed, and the sound of water gushed over rocks in the nearby stream, invoking a mysterious flow of cool, shadowy air as the sun bore down upon our little faces—unforgettable scenes  of childhood.

We noticed something troubling, though, as we sat blissfully gazing into the sky. God had made His nose much bigger than ours, and His mouth and ears so much bigger. We voiced our displeasure. It never dawned on our little minds that the awesome “figure” in the sky was the result of cloud formation. We were taught that God is up there in heaven, so that day, when we saw that towering figure looking out at the world, that to us was God.

Time to  Grow Up

We often draw conclusions about God based on our world experiences. Such was the nature of some congregations to which the apostle Paul ministered through letters; and so often it is even today. Children do not grasp that their view of things is limited because their reasoning capacity is incomplete. Childhood is wonderful,  but it is not natural or helpful to remain a child.

The Corinthian church divided over differing conclusions on various matters. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul implies that divisiveness emerges from the absence of spiritual maturity in what really endures—love. In 11:9-12, he states: “Love never ends. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.”

Surrendering our limited view of things is not easy; but when we do, we begin to move past the distrust and intolerance that defeat God’s purpose for us. Love is that spiritual discipline by which we remain in God’s presence and grow together in hope. God does not change, but we must because we are, at every stage, limited in our grasp of things. So, as I like to say, “No more baby talk; we’re big kids now.”

Olive Hemmings is religion professor at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., and a recent Columbia Union Notable Person of Honor.

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