Saturday, January 9, 2010

Got Milk?

Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (NIV)

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a huge milk drinker. As we’ve raised our kids, they’ve become big milk drinkers too. We typically go through four to six gallons per week.

Now granted, we don’t drink much else. Some fruit juice, lots of water, very little pop and I drink too much coffee. But milk is the drink of choice at most meals and snack time around our house (at least for me and the kids).

I wonder if that’s what my problem has been all these years. I really like milk. Oh I like meat and lots of other solid foods (including veggies), but milk is so good I can’t seem to stop drinking it. It’s quick, refreshing and portable nutrition. But frankly a person needs more than milk to be healthy. Right?

The author of Hebrews tells us that only the mature are able to eat and digest solid food. I guess that would suggest mature people have 1) teeth to chew the solid food and 2) a digestive system that is able to properly digest the solid food that is eaten.

So how does a person become mature in Christ? I bet our answers would vary widely.

Paul the Apostle tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, that maturity occurs under the guidance of God’s given representatives for the church. There are apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; all of which contribute to the developmental process that leads us to full maturity.

James, Jesus’ half-brother tells us in his letter, that perseverance is a component in the process of maturity. This could lead us to believe that quitting or bailing out on our faith in Jesus, when things get tough, will preclude the full development of our maturity.

And even Jesus, when teaching about different soil types (people types), indicated that an inordinate desire for money, pleasure and a busy life will flat out keep us from becoming mature and healthy believers in Him.

I wonder how much maturation actually occurs within the lives of church folk? My hope is that it’s happening to a great degree, but our love for milk may indicate otherwise.

Let’s test it. In Hebrews 6:1-2 the writer indicates a few of the signs of the immature Christian.

The need to repent from a works based Christianity. Are we constantly trying to perform for God or others? Are we constantly trying to impress God with our good works? Are we still trying to get into heaven by being good? Then it’s likely we’re not yet mature.

The need to incessantly reaffirm our belief in God, by demanding proofs from Him. Either we confidently believe that He is or we don’t. Either our faith in His very existence is the bed rock of who we are as Christians or it’s not. Either we really believe this stuff or we don’t. If we can’t hold firmly to the fact that He is, if that is still an issue up for debate, it’s likely we’re not yet mature.

The need to argue about water and even Spirit baptism is indicative of immature Christianity. The sacrament of water baptism and experience of Spirit baptism, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, are two events that should not be in question for the mature believer. Far too much evidence can be found in the early church, as to their significance as well as their frequency, to be of argument. If we’re still fighting over these issues, it’s likely we’re not yet mature.

The need to be convinced that laying hands on the sick or the spiritually needy, for healing, infilling or restoration. If we haven’t figured it out by now, the New Testament Christianity included the practice of laying hands on one another when a need was present. If this is in question, it’s likely we’re not mature.

How about the debate over ones eternal status? How fragile is our eternal security? Are we swinging in and out of heaven and hell, like some paranoid religious pendulum? Are we still trying to convince people that they will indeed stand before the King of kings and give an account of themselves, but not to worry, because if they are in Christ, His blood covers it all? If so, it’s likely we’re not yet mature.

It seems that these issues noted in Hebrews chapter six verses one and two are clear indicators of where immaturity and maturity part company. I read it this way; if we still need to teach these matters to those who have heard them over and over; they are NOT mature and neither are their teachers.

Granted, a concession to feed with milk as needed is allowed, but a rebuke is mixed in. As a result, when we lack the maturity that comes from proper teaching and learning, we never come to the place of being able to distinguish good from evil.

And that seems to be very plain in the day and age we live. If you doubt what I’m saying, ask people what they think is good and evil. The spectrum is a mile wide and an inch deep, and coated over with a nice shinny glaze of religious rhetoric claiming Christian liberty. Good and evil seem to be on a sliding scale. I know because I live the same thing.

As a result of all this fun we’re having growing up in Him, I think for now, I’ll stick with my milk habit. It’s safer than beer.

How about you? Got milk?

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