Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hebrews 5: The Milk Diet

Baby Christians need milk, that's what Hebrews 5 tells us. It says that new believers need the elementary truths of God's word fed to them over and over again. Just like the infant's tiny tummy which only permits a few hours between feedings, the new believer needs a constant diet of foundational truth. But this passage that goes well into Hebrews 6 is actually a call to wean ourselves from the milk diet. While we will always need foundational truths, we must mature. We must add solids to our spiritual diet.

But what does solid food look like? The answer from Hebrews isn't exactly cut and dried, yet it is clear that a solid diet leads to righteous living and to teaching new believers. Perseverance is also vital, as is a willingness to fail. After all, failure is part of maturing.

The other night I laid down with Sam to get him to sleep. Yes I know, this is a terrible practice, but I'm afraid we are terrible parents and do it every night. On the one hand, it is disruptive to have to lay down with your child to get them to sleep. Ah, but on the other hand it is a little piece of heaven. Sam is such a darling little snuggler and he is growing up so fast. I don't see myself ever regretting this as wasted time.

Anyway, Sam was laying there practicing counting, which he does in English and Spanish, thanks to Dora the Explorer. He was holding up his pudgy little hand and trying to make his fingers stand upright as he counted them. He was whispering the numbers to himself and I was laying next to him, watching. Unfortunately Sam's fingers weren't cooperating. With two-year-old dexterity, he just couldn't get his third and fourth fingers to do what he wanted. So he just decided he'd yell at them in an angry and indignant voice: "Hey!" Then he started over with the counting. But his little fingers were stubborn, popping up before he wanted them to. "Hey!" he yelled out again. He must have done this four or five times, getting more and more frustrated before I decided to help him.

Like Sam we often fail when we try new things, and like Sam we may even grow frustrated. But no one has ever learned to walk without taking some pretty brutal falls and I think this process applies to our spiritual life as well. If we stay on the milk diet, we won't fail, but we won't fulfill God's plans for us. God wants us to attempt great things for Him and expect great things from Him. (William Carey). This does not mean that all our attempts will succeed. They won't. But as my pastor, Lon Solomon, says, "God steers a moving ship."

This week may we reflect on our spiritual diet. Like the infant we can survive on milk, but God wants us thriving not surviving. So where are the solids in our diet? Are we attempting great things and persevering in faith? Do we have spiritual mentors who encourage us and hold us accountable? Are we praying for wisdom and discernment? Living the Christian life is a process, but it is also a diet -- meaning we must partake daily. May God bless you and me this week with an insatiable appetite for solids!

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