COMING OF AGE
When I became a man ...," Paul says (1 Corinthians 13'11). Most adults in western societies have heard the phrase "coming of age".
It is supposed to describe the time when children can be held accountable to family, community and society for their own words and actions (instead of their parents being held responsible).
In the various "Christianities" there is what is called "the age of accountability". This is celebrated in a ceremony when a child reaches a certain age having learned basic denominational doctrines.
From the believing Parents' point of view, there is one factor that must be acknowledged in this context. And it is that faith may be present in a child at a young age.
Due to the godly family environment, encountering God's word among Believers and the working of the Holy Spirit a child believes.
However, it is important that they are allowed to grow in their faith. The truths of repentance, immersion in water, keeping the Lord's Supper, etc, all require an adult level of Biblical understanding in order to be personal responsible and accountable.
The Bible refers to someone as being "of age". This describes a person who is able to take responsibility and consequences for speaking and acting for himself or herself on the basis of their godly understanding, like Jesus was.
There are a number of examples.
The clearest one is in a statement made by a Jewish couple about their son. Almost all of John 9 is taken up with it.
These parents were being called on by Pharisees to take parental responsibility for what their had said and did after Jesus had healed him of blindness. They refused.
They were not willing to take the consequences for the strong way their son was rebutting the Pharisees' threatening questions.
They said: "He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself"! Their son spoke for himself confidently and clearly, refusing to back down. His conduct revealed that he was of age!
The young Mary is a prime example of being of age. Her faith, worship and understanding was acknowledged by the angel's greeting: "Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you," Luke 1'28.
He added: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God," Luke 1'30.
By way, how had she found favour with God? Like her famous forebear Abraham she believed God. And it was accounted to her for righteousness, as it was him!
She was at the stage, naturally, personally and spiritually, where she was able to accept His commission and face the challenges that would come with it, Luke 1'26-39.
Showing her trust in God she responded to the angel's statement with:
"Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word".
Mary was "of age"!
Timothy is another example. Paul describes him as "a certain disciple" and the son of a believing Jewish woman and unbelieving Greek father and well spoken of.
At one stage Paul called on him to be circumcised because of the Jews in that region who all knew that his father was Greek (Acts 16'-1). He was willing and yielded himself to it.
He had known the Scriptures from childhood which, Paul said, "... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," 2 Timothy 3'15.
Later, as a believing young man, he was called to be an example to all:
"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity," 1 Timothy 4'12.
About Moses being of age Hebrews 11'24-27 NKJV says:
"By faith Moses, when he became of age
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God
than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt;
for he looked to the reward.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king;
for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible," Hebrews 11'24-27.
Although Moses may have been somewhat older than the healed man, or Mary or Timothy the basics of his coming of age are the same.
Being of age is particularly important regarding when a person is ready for immersion in water or partaking in the Lord's Supper.
This is because both of these commandments of Jesus call for a degree of commitment and understanding in order to honour God.
It must be remembered that neither of these are essential to salvation. No one has to do them as soon as possible after first believing.
They are not rites of passage of part of membership criteria or done because others have given themselves to them.
The point is that Believers should be mature enough to understand the word of Christ. They should understand that He and are always available to them in their walk with the Lord.