Milk, Meat, and Making a Difference

“Search Scripture for an example of a once-a-week Christian. Write me when you find him or her.” —Hugh Hewitt, American Political Commentator, Professor of Constitutional Law, and Author of The Embarrassed Believer.

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Matthew 5:21-37
Psalm 119:1-8

“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)

PRAYER FOCUS: Christian Growth

The church at Corinth had problems. Divided in cliques and factions, they argued amongst themselves much like children argue over worthless and insignificant matters. They schemed and struggled for control. Because of their spiritually immature behaviors Paul had to write to them as children, not as mature Christians. He said he had to feed them spiritual milk because they couldn’t digest real meat.

In a word, Paul called them babies.

The symbolism here is striking. Both milk and meat are high in protein and rich with nutrients. The problem is that you don’t feed meat to babies. They can’t yet digest complex proteins, plus they have no teeth. Chewing meat requires teeth. Once our teeth come in, small bites inexorably lead to bigger bites and better meals. Meat is far superior to milk in nutritional value, especially if you have hard work to do. To put grown-ups on a milk-only diet is to deny them the nourishment they need to grow and thrive.

The great evangelist Charles Spurgeon pointed out that spiritual milk does feed the soul. It contains the simplest truths of Christianity, and it is easy to understand. But by itself that cannot promote spiritual growth. Therefore, we should desire to outgrow our milk diet and progress to the strong meat of Scripture — the “high doctrine of the deep things of God.”

Peter uses the same metaphor. Spiritual milk is given to new believers in Christ so that they can grow, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). The author of Hebrews takes us to the next level, “Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14). Hebrews 6:1 exhorts us to “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity.” The prophet Jeremiah thanked God for feeding him, “I found your words and I ate them: Your word was to me the joy and great rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16).

Mature Christians must transition to spiritual meat, or like the church at Corinth, they will remain babies in the faith. To demand milk when we ought to be eating meat is to return to the depravity of the carnal state. By consuming and digesting God’s word we become spiritually discerning, able to distinguish between right and wrong.

That brings us back to our first Lectionary Scripture from the book of Deuteronomy.

God has made the difference between Right and Wrong clear and stark. The Bible says over and over that God expects us to know the difference, and to choose accordingly. Predictably, the world (and unfortunately some “progressive” church leaders) would have you believe this difference isn’t entirely black and white—that it is gray, or perhaps blurry. The unspiritual are uncomfortable dealing with absolutes. But our Father-God isn’t interested in fuzzy theology or our doubt-riddled inner feelings that come and go like the tides. He is interested in our faithful love for Him, and our obedience to His Word. God wants us to make right choices.

God sets before us each day the choice between life and death, prosperity and destruction—the choice between blessings and curses, right and wrong, good and evil. We must choose—or default to—one or the other. There is no “safe” middle ground. There is no gray.

For the Church to make a difference in today’s world, Christians have to know the difference between right and wrong. We should live lives consistent with those beliefs, and not wring our hands over what the world thinks about that. The world desperately needs fully formed, mature Christians who live their lives “out there” in their communities, whose words and deeds give the same testimony of faith and truth.

Therefore, Christian, let us graduate from milk to solid food. Pray that we might consume the correct spiritual food, that our church leaders would start serving it, and that we may grow strong in the Spirit of the Lord so that “we may please Him both in will and deed.”

Milk and Meat. We need both to live and grow, but at different times in our lives. We need the first to live as babies. We need the second to grow and thrive as adults. If we want to make a difference in the lives of the people around us, we will need to consume advanced spiritual food to fortify us for the work we are called to do.

Good and Evil. God expects us to learn and then practice the difference. The defense of our Christian beliefs requires us to speak truth about the culture around us.

Do you want to make a difference in your world? Be a force for good.

It’s Monday Morning. Resolve this week to eat what’s healthy for both your body and your soul. Sink your teeth into it. Choose life and live it.

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