Thursday, February 4, 2010

Milk vs. Steak

This post is not about the superiority of beef over all dairy products. Nor is it about milk or beef production. It’s about the call Christians have to pursue maturity over infancy in their walk with Jesus Christ.

This January marked the start of part two of the Hebrews bible study I joined last September; I was home sick yesterday with strep throat so I had plenty of time to review the teachings of the past couple of weeks and refine my thoughts in regard to this subject. I also thought it was somewhat timely to discuss the needs of infants since more than five friends have had babies this past year!!

In Hebrews 5:13-14 the author says, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

I have read this passage many times before but it took on new meaning yesterday. I have been a Christian for close to 15 years and I like to think of myself as a mature Christian but it hit me yesterday that I often act like a newborn in my faith. How do I know this to be true? Actions define my stage of maturity just like they defined the spiritual maturity of the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Paul said he had to speak to them as if they were people of the world or spiritual babes; if I were there that same warning would have applied to me too because of my sinful, infant-like behavior. All too often I am jealous. I covet. I squabble with my sister or my mom and then justify it because I was tired in the moment. I am bitter…often…towards the work ethics of those I work closely with. And to top it all off, I am prideful. Quietly prideful, because I wouldn’t want anyone to accuse me of being so.

These sinful tendencies of mine clearly classify me as a part of those believers who are infants and adolescents. Now, listen to what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:1-3, “So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for the nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

Picture a hungry baby – yelling, squirming, angry that it even has to cry for its food. The whole of that infants’ being cries out for sustenance with focus and determination. The baby is immediately satisfied as soon as it starts nursing, but does so with just as much intense focus as before. Peter is urging us to crave the basic teaching of God with the same intense focus and driven nature as an actual babe. He wants us to know that our basic existence depends on this very thing; we will not grow if we do not seek this sustenance. But just as an infant grows and his palate matures and begins to desire real food, so must our sustenance in the Lord change. We must first seek the basic teachings of Christ so that we may mature to more complex and meaningful teachings. We aren’t instantly meat eaters, we must build up our strength with milk first.

Do not be discouraged if your actions, like mine, are those of an adolescent. I’m not condoning your sinful nature; I’m trying to encourage you. After strongly chastising his Hebrew audience about their lack of spiritual growth, the author goes on in 6:9 and says with confidence, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” I am convinced of better things concerning you too – I pray you are convicted. I pray you fiercely and passionately desire sustenance in Christ, regardless if that sustenance is currently spiritual milk or spiritual steak.


LeAnna said...

Great thoughts! I love the book of Hebrews. I think in chapters 3 or 4 it talks about entering God's rest, and I have enjoyed studying that. Love your new header pic, too!

The Hursts said...

I'm going to chew on this today (so, does that mean I'm eating steak... ha! Sorry, I couldn't resist!) Seriously, though, this is a great lesson and one that I have a constant reminder of- a crying infant who needs my milk to survive!