Of Diapers and Discipleship
©2005, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
Diapers. We go through a LOT of diapers in a week. Sasha is still a baby and even though Samuel is in the midst of potty-training and doing very well he still needs a little extra protection for night time and naps. It’s a LOT of diapers. I am very thankful for diapers, they make the clean up of a baby so much easier than if they didn’t have such a device. I realize that there are some cultures who do not use such things but I’m really glad mine does. In fact I was rejoicing in diapers the other day and thinking that maybe it would be nice if we just reverted back to having Samuel wear diapers all the time and forget about this whole training thing. It’s so much ‘easier’ on both of us than having to think about bodily functions for a good portion of each day. God picked a flower for me in the middle of my musing, which I will share with you – I warned you that there would be flowers in the diapers - so let’s drag that theme out just a little….
Imagine a five year old (fully functioning – I’m not talking about disabilities or physical issues that cannot be avoided) that was still in diapers. Age that child by another 5, 10, 20 years. Who would want to be changing the diapers of a 30 year old fully functional adult? Not me! That is just too disgusting for words. (Once again may I say that I am referring to FULLY functioning people here.) Think about the 30 year old who is in his/her office or on his/her job site asking one of his/her co-workers to help him/her out with a diaper change!! Seems just a little ridiculous doesn’t it…now…
Paul says to the Corinthian church in chapter 3, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready.” Paul goes on to say that the Corinthians’ hearts were still too caught up in worldly things, things like jealousy and quarrelling that brought divisions among them. In other words (the LVLT – Lani’s very loose translation) Paul is saying, “Hey, y’all it’s time to get out of your diapers and grow up. You need to leave behind the trappings of ‘childishness’ and move on to maturity. There are things that you need to be learning and doing that require you to have self-control and independence. Quit acting like babies [or toddlers].”
But how do we do that? Are we doing that? Am I doing that? Are we grown up? Is there jealousy and quarrelling among us? Are we fixated on worldly things? How exactly do we grow up, or help someone else grow up? We do that by watching how Jesus trained his disciples and doing what He did. We do that by engaging in what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28 – we make disciples. Training Samuel to use the toilet on his own is a conscientious effort on my part that is gradually being released over to him. He is learning how to control his body so that he can mature and move on to other ‘big boy’ tasks like cleaning up after himself, taking care of getting dressed and contributing to the workings of this family. If we never get past the diaper stage, his ability to contribute, to mature and to function as an individual will be hampered. I could leave him to figure it out on his own, which he probably would at some point through observation and discomfort. He may even ask for help if , or when, he realized that he was not functioning like the other family members. However, it is much to our benefit as a family to train him, to walk alongside him and show him the ropes, teach him the rules of the bathroom and help him clean up the mess when he misses. The training will go much smoother and more quickly, if we disciple him in this process. The whole family is involved in Samuel’s training, encouraging him, cheering him on and cleaning up after him. It’s a wonderful picture of the spiritual family and how it was made to function.
Training a new Christian, or one who has never gotten out of infancy takes some conscientious effort on the part of a more mature Christian to go on to deeper things.
If you recognize that you are still in infancy as a Christian ask someone who you can see is farther down the road than you to teach you what they’ve learned. Then, start teaching someone else what you’ve learned. That is how the process of discipleship works. It doesn’t have to be difficult, though it may be at times (sometimes growing up involves confrontation and discipline), it is, as my pastor’s wife says, inviting someone to be part of your life. Engaging in relationship that builds up the body of Christ is what Matthew 28 is all about. Bringing about maturity so that we can grow up into all things – into unity in the body of Christ. The entire spiritual family benefits when we help out our infant Christians grow up into maturity. Unfortunately, there are people who are in the church that have been there for a long time that have never ‘grown up’. These people aren’t going to be able to contribute as fully as they might until that maturing process happens. It is a credit to our whole spiritual family to have EVERYONE growing up and maturing. All of us will need help, training and encouragement along our journey. We can all be lending a hand to someone else as we take another hand to be helped along the way.
It is a joy to watch my little ones grow up and achieve the steps to maturity that they are currently working on. I will be glad when my babies are out of diapers, there will be a lot more room in my bathroom when the change table and diaper pail are gone. There will be a little more freedom in our activity choices. There will be a few dollars that can go somewhere else. There will also be other issues that will require us to continue in the training and discipleship of our children, probably bigger issues than how to use the toilet. I trust that God will grant us wisdom along the way and grace to implement what is necessary for our children to reach their full potential. This is the good news, He offers that to each of us.
Discipleship. Engage in it. Ask for it. Begin at home if you have other people that you live with. Discipleship is what we are commanded by Jesus to do, it starts at home…and that’s another topic for another day.