Growing up in a Southern Baptist family prevented me from ever playing a pinball machine. Well, “prevented” may not be the best choice of words. I did play pinball a few times. It was fun, but all the machines were designed to be as worldly as possible, so that bit of Baptist guidance won out. Still, pinball is such a good analogy for how the world works against Christians.
As we live, we continually encounter pins that try to bounce us off Jesus’ path of righteousness and over to another pin. If we let this continue, we will constantly be bouncing from celebrity drama to unwise streaming subscriptions to false teachings under the umbrella of Christianity, to who knows what, racking up huge scores for the enemy!
Each time we bump into one of these pins, it bashes us, sending us away from how we should live. God knew we would have this problem. That’s why He gave us “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds), and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ1.“
This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.Ephesians 4:13 NLT
Jesus expects us to measure up to His full and complete standard. If we don’t, we remain immature Christians. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes2. He goes on and tells us” we are to grow up3.“
Big chunks of who we are must be replaced with who Jesus is. Our anger, lust, greed, lying, and so forth are unacceptable to God. However, we probably did most of these things after we were saved; we probably still struggle with some. These behaviors are sinful and must be replaced. Continuing the pinball analogy, as we grow and mature in the Lord, the pins remain, but we, the steel balls, grow a downy (wool) covering. This covering dampens the pins’ impact on our lives. We get less bounced around.
Overcoming the ways of the world takes personal commitment and time. We can’t make these changes on our own. We need the Holy Spirit, Christian brothers and sisters, and we need to learn sound (reliable) doctrines4 of the body of Christ5.
So here’s our good news. The more we mature as Christians, the closer we get to Jesus and the further we get from ungodly behavior. That downy insulation straightens out our life paths6, keeping us from bouncing around throughout our lives.