Talk about going against the grain…
For the last year-plus, the world has been obsessed with death. Last week, I told you that we’re going to make a deliberate break from the headlines and talk on Mondays, instead, about Life!
You may have felt last week’s edition to be overly elementary, but – as I explained then, with Nicodemus – even highly religious people can miss the point about what it takes to get started with God. Born dead, spiritually, the first step into Life, everlasting, is to verbalize and internalize the essential minimums: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Okay, great; people come to faith and receive the Gift of Life, through no worthiness or effort required. Now what? What’s the Macro Track for long-term life in relationship to Jesus Christ?
Today, we’re making the crucial observation: as with human life, infants are full of life and potential, but their progress into maturity will be a process that holds both promise and pitfalls.
In human development, proper care ensures that a person will progress toward their expected future. In spiritual development, the path to maturity requires external support and internal assent. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he had to call them out for their stunted growth: “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). That had to be a hard letter to write, and even harder to receive.
This isn’t just a verse or two out of context. Listen-in to the writer of Hebrews: how much are Christians ready to hear and follow regarding their Life, at the Macro Level? “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:11-13).
In the evangelical world, the metric that commands the most attention is the spiritual birthrate. The street cred for ministries and ministers is often found in “how many people accepted Jesus?” When there’s an “invitation,” the response stimulates celebration – and, rightly so – but, what’s next?
The passing of time doesn’t guarantee growth in your faith! Without growth, you can actually require a refresher!
Here’s a “tell” for a believer who has hit a blockage: “… no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Here’s a “test” that is seldom applied: do you know enough to keep from being blown off course by deliberate or ignorant false teaching based on discerning merit and based on the solid message of Scripture?
We’re going somewhere with this series of Monday disruptions. We started with Life, last week; we’ll make no assumptions about that life-or-death matter. Today, the risk of offense continues: how far have you come in your spiritual development? Is your inner man an inner child, still dependent on milk? Or, are you further along… and regularly dining on meat? Do you know the difference?
The Gift of Life is great; but, what’s next?