The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 7/30

Posted on | July 30, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 7/30

Scripture reading: Luke 2:39–52

The Peter Pan Syndrome

             But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and                  Savior Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:18)

Most of us are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, originally written by J. M. Barrie a century ago. On the surface it is a delightful story about children and an island called Neverland, where one adventure after another occurs involving pirates, mermaids, Indians and fairies. The best part of the story is that the children can fly! But there is a deeper and more troubling reality that undergirds this story. Peter Pan is a boy who refuses to grow up! You might say that Barrie’s book is a psychological study of a classic case of arrested development. Peter Pan is a man who has the emotional maturity of an adolescent. And this immaturity is not the unfortunate result of some genetic malfunction. It is a willful and conscious choice. In the play version of the story, perhaps you remember Peter’s famous song:

I won’t grow up! I don’t want to go to school! Just to learn to be a parrot and recite a silly rule. I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up . . . Not me!

Disney and Hollywood may succeed in making Peter Pan cute, even charming. But there is nothing at all cute about a man who refuses to grow up. This reality is not completely lost in the story. If you study his life more closely, you realize that Peter Pan is a conceited, willful, egotistical, self-absorbed brat who is unable (unwilling!) to love others or receive love in return. In fact, pop psychology has coined the term “the Peter Pan Syndrome” to describe adult males who are emotionally and socially immature. These are men who want to remain forever in the infantile world where they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions, and where everything is fun and games. These men live in an egocentric world where they expect everything and everyone to orbit around them. Peter Pan is certainly not a role model that we want our children to emulate!

Another Peter (the apostle) saw things differently. He commanded the children of God in his day to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (II Peter 3:18). Don’t remain in a state of arrested development; grow up! Note two things about Peter’s words:

,. This is a command. It is unnecessary to command children to grow biologically; it just happens automatically. Not so with spiritual growth. It never just “happens.” Just because you have been a Christian for ten years doesn’t mean you have ten years of maturity in Christ. Growth in Christ happens only when we make a decision to grow.
,. This command is in the present tense. In other words, Peter is saying, “Keep on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The need to grow never ends. I believe even in heaven we will have the joy of continuing to obey this wonderful command forever.

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). Though he was the sinless Son of God, he needed to grow: intellectually (in wisdom), physically (in stature), spiritually (in favor with God) and socially (in favor with man). If Jesus needed to grow, how much more do you and I need to grow!

Are you suffering today from arrested development so that your life resembles Peter Pan more than Peter the Apostle? Confess your willful immaturity to God. Ask him to show you specific steps you can take that will enable you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ve always had a task that I couldn’t do; it was always beyond me. So I’ve had to depend on grace.  —E. Stanley Jones

point to ponder • Spiritual maturity does not happen automatically.

prayer focus • Growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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