Summary: There are many in church who hunger to grow. They desire a deeper awareness of Christ’s truths and a stronger faith and maturity. This sermon deals with that longing.
"Milk and Meat: Moving Toward Christian Maturity"
A sermon delivered by Dr. David L. Haun
Hope Christian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
When you were a child, didn’t it seem to take a long time to grow up? I remember always wanting to be older and bigger than I was. Around age 9, I longed to be a teen ager. That magical age seemed to be forever away. Then it came, and I longed to be 16 and have a driver’s license. In the play of young children, their role is always that of a grownup, whether it’s cowboys, sports, or playing house with dolls.
In the same way there are many in church who hunger to grow. They desire a deeper awareness of Christ’s truths, They long for a stronger faith for living and a more meaningful maturity.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he mentions this hunger, and shares a concern for those who fail to seek this maturity. Chapter three begins with a reproach to believers since Paul could speak to them only as infants. I have had to feed you with milk and not with solid food, because you couldn’t digest anything stronger. (I Cor. 3:2)
God wants us to grow! He wants us to move beyond the elementary stage of milk into maturity and the meaning of meat. However, as we strive for a deeper spiritual life, there are truths in growing maturity we might do well to remember.
The first step into Maturity is to recognize some distortions to faith we will meet in our Spiritual walk.
(a) First is the feeling that what we hear in our present church isn’t truly meat. The thought arises, "you’ll never find teaching good enough here. What they preach isn’t mature. You have grown beyond them and you need to look elsewhere till you find meat. Some people spend a
lifetime jumping from church to church seeking rainbows or wind mills, never recognizing they already possess God’s message where they are.
Paul stresses that the place where we grow is probably not the primary factor for our spiritual maturity. Who am I, and who is Apollos, that we should be the cause of a quarrel? Why, we’re just God’s servants, each of us with certain special abilities, and with our help you believed. My work was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos’ work was to water it; but it was God, not we who made the garden grow in your heart. (I Cor. 3:5-6)
It isn’t too important whether we grow under Paul or Apollos. Both play a part in God’s plan. It isn’t so much the place where we grow that matters. What matters is allowing God to let it grow, and keeping in touch with God.
The Scriptural message is this: if you and I have grown in some area of our faith beyond milk, and are ready for meat, we must teach that insight we have gained to those less mature, rather than merely seeking more meat for ourselves.
(b) The second distortion that can attack true maturity is the feeling that Meat must be different than Milk. We begin to believe that if a truth isn’t different, if it isn’t new, then it isn’t meat.
That’s how cults grow in today’s society. They say, "What you learned in the past is immature. Come and hear our teaching -- because our teaching is new, it is intellectual, and it makes sense to the modern mind.
Newness is not a requirement for spiritual meat. Often it is that simple childhood faith that God intends as the meat for our lives.
(c) A third distortion could be the feeling that we have grown in our lives into a level of Superior Truth. When this begins to occur, pride can begin to fester within us, and a judgmental spirit begin to distort our closeness to God. For example, perhaps you, like me, learned the books of the Bible in Vacation Bible School. Now, what’s the value in learning the names of the Bible books? It is simply to find books more easily. That knowledge, in and of itself, is of little value if one never opens the Bible. But the knowledge can become a source of pride and a feeling of superiority. After all, "I know the books...."
It is essential to grow in our relationship with Christ. However, growing for the sake of growing is not the intention of God. God expects growth to lead us to more Christ-like living. Growing merely to grow can drive a wedge between us and God.
The second step in our move toward maturity is to remember that Familiarity can limit mastering God’s message.
In a former church I served, a mother started reading the Bible to her young son. A few weeks later they were reading from the Gospel of John. When she read John 3:16, her son commented, "Oh, I know this. This is an old one..." Being familiar with a Scripture can do that to us. We can "know" it so well that we feel we know all there is to know about it. And we find ourselves blinded to a God-inspired meaning we are intended to find within the passage.