Have you ever had to (or maybe just wanted to) tell someone to grow up? I know. Silly question. We’ve all been there, the author of Hebrews being no exception. We all can relate to the level of exasperation we find in Hebrews 5:11 and the verses that follow, but if we’re honest, we can also see ourselves reflected in the warning itself. We, too, have been slow to understand and put into practice the teachings of God’s word. We can hear the same thing again and again without ever putting it into practice. It’s a danger that can befall any of us, which is why the warning here is so strongly worded. It isn’t a call to forget the fundamental tenets of our faith. It’s a call to train our “powers of discernment” with diligence, trusting the promises of God as others have before us.
Even if we might want to, we don’t just go around telling everyone to grow up. If you do, there’s a good chance what you’re really urging is conformity to your own image and expectations. We know, at least intuitively, that a challenge as direct as calling someone to “grow up” requires a certain level of trust. It requires a relational stability that we just don’t have with very many people. The author of Hebrews understood this dynamic, issuing strong challenges that were inseparable from unwavering assurances. Yes, it is time to get serious about growing and maturing in our faith, but that is not a challenge that comes out of nowhere. Just as surely as God kept his promise to Abraham, he will keep his promises to us. Our invitation is to patiently walk with God toward the hope he has set before us, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Jesus has gone ahead so that we can follow. Following Jesus with patient faith is what growing up looks like.