Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 3, 2015
Moving from milk to solid food
A loving parent, exasperated with the childish behavior of a lazy teenager, finally said with disgust, “It’s time for you to grow up!” Those who have raised children understand that frustration.
Wise parents recognize that the transition from childhood to adulthood is never easy, yet they long for their children to “grow up.” They want to hear their kids say what Saint Paul said in his famous letter to the Corinthians: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
Biblical writers remind us that “baby” Christians need to grow up also. For example, the writer of the Book of Hebrews sounds at one point like a parent talking to a child when he discusses milk and solid food.
In one translation (The Message) the writer says bluntly, “By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”
Christians stunt their growth by remaining satisfied with the milk of the gospel. Some believers remain infants in the faith because they want only a little Bible now and then and a little worship now and then. Maturity never comes until believers move from milk to the “meat” of the gospel.”
The elementary truths about Christ are the milk. The deeper truths of the faith are the meat. When our boys were infants, they were satisfied with a bottle of milk or applesauce. As they matured, they began to eat solid food. It would have been tragic for them to grow up content with the food of infants.
This, regrettably, is the predicament of many Christians who have settled for immaturity instead of striving for spiritual maturity. They prefer to stay in the kindergarten of faith, drinking milk, rather than do the hard work necessary to become mature, well-informed disciples of Christ. Such lethargy can be found in many adult Sunday School classes; lesson quarterlies are often studied by no one but the teacher.
The Hebrew Christians were reprimanded for remaining students when, by now, they should have become teachers. The writer uses “teachers” in a broad sense for he means much more than persons who teach others in a classroom. He wants growing Christians to teach by moral example and by a lifestyle like that of Christ.
Spiritual immaturity results in spiritual dullness. Mediocrity can retard our growth, causing us to live like babes in Christ rather than like men and women who are maturing by probing the deeper truths of faith. To discern between good and evil, believers must learn to wrestle with greater issues than the ABCs of the faith.
The writer of Hebrews warns Christians not to retreat to Judaism but allow the Spirit to lead them into genuine, mature faith. He warns them of the grave danger of being cut off from God’s mercy if, having “tasted the goodness of the word of God,” they “fall away.” Those who reject Christ are certain to face the judgment of God and miss the eternal reward reserved for the faithful.
He affirms the Christians, complimenting them for their good work and “labor of love.” He expresses confidence that God will not forget their service to him. Therefore, he pleads, be diligent and persevere in the faith. He issues a clarion call to be intentional about growing in the faith so that they may realize their full potential as servants of Christ. His admonition to the Hebrew Christians reminds us of Saint Paul’s warning to the Galatians: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:9).
The Book of Hebrews can be a wake-up call – to resist the temptation to rest on our laurels and be content with our spiritual maturity. We must not surrender to lethargy that settles for mediocrity. We must grab ourselves by the nap of the neck and plead with the Holy Spirit for a fresh anointing that can propel us toward full maturity in Christ. To settle for less will be a disgrace to the One who bought us with his own blood.
Those who persevere in seeking a deeper walk with Christ may one day say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
The sad alternative is to stay in the crib with the other babies who are satisfied to drink milk. + + +