Our physical growth and our spiritual growth are amazingly similar. Let’s look at how:
3 The prudent see danger and take refuge [they are able to look ahead], but the simple keep going and pay the penalty [they are not able to see beyond what they are doing].
Yesterday, we looked at the four stages of Jean Piaget’s cognitive development. They are:
- Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years
- Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7
- Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11
- Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up
In the Preoperational stage, there are some parallels between our physical stages of growth and our spiritual stages of growth. Let’s consider some of them:
- Children begin to think symbolically and learn to use words and pictures to represent objects.
- Children at this stage tend to be egocentric and struggle to see things from the perspective of others.
- While they are getting better with language and thinking, they still tend to think about things in very concrete terms.
- Jesus definitely related to us symbolically. For instance, He called Himself “the bread of life (John 6:35),” “the light of the world (John 8:12),” and “the good Shepherd (John 10:11).” He used word pictures, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…(John 6:54),” and bread and wine representing His body and blood (Luke 22:19-20).
- Egocentric means that we see predominantly from our own perspective. Christians who are loyal to either the person/denomination who brought them to Jesus or to the specific belief system that introduced them to Jesus can struggle with this stage. Learning to learn from other believers who believe differently than them can come slowly and over time.
- The cross and its intent is a prime example of concrete thinking:
- For a thousand years, the general belief was that Christ rescued us from sin, death, and the clutches of the enemy.
- In Medieval times, the general thought was of honor and satisfaction, which was a big deal to the serfs, lords and knights in their day.
- In the Renaissance, John Calvin introduced the courtroom metaphor that is still loosely held to this day in Western churches.
As we can see, our spiritual growth mirrors our physical growth. Sometimes we “grow up” very quickly spiritually while at other times we can linger in a stage. What it all boils down to is our interaction with the heavenly Father. He is the one who helps us work through each stage. The amount of time it takes doesn’t matter as much as getting through them.
Tomorrow, we will look at the Concrete Operational Stage (ages 7-11 years) and see if we find any parallels.
Abba, as Your children, I know that You are in the process of growing us up in Christ. May we get really good at listening for and then to Your Spirit as You lead us in our daily lives. Amen.