Saturday, March 6, 2010

Only the mature desire solid food over milk

I have to laugh when people inform me that Jesus is nothing but a crutch for me. Crutch? They should try walking in my shoes for a mile and still say that. Following Jesus, and I mean really following which includes obedience, has been the greatest challenge of my life and has cost me dearly. True obedience is not an easy thing and many do not get very far. In fact, many do not get very far at all. To be truthful, many do not even finish the foundation to their faith before they quit and walk away. The reason is because they do not persevere with the basics before moving on to the advanced stuff.

When I joined the militia, as an older teen, I did it to play in the band. I was a musician and the militia paid good money. However, regardless of my duties I was still a soldier and, much to my dismay, I still had to complete basic training. I had to learn how to take orders, how to shoot a rifle, and how to be disciplined in everything I did. Being in good physical condition was of great importance so we had long marches and drills that became routine. We were treated like dirt and came to accept that this was life as a lowly private. It took a while but I made it through and was able to move on to my regular duties as a musician, eventually making it to corporal.

That basic training was important because they were teaching me how to fight for my life and those of my buddies. If I did not learn my lessons well and excel I would become a danger to my buddies and I would not last long. A number of people quit before the end of the basic training. It was hard and they decided it was not worth it. Today I wonder if it is perhaps how we need to see the beginning of our walk with Jesus.

We have a lot to learn and much of it is the training of the Spirit as we learn to live completely different from what we were. It is not always easy to let go of what we were and what we had, and to do so requires that our love for Jesus is sincere and the greatest priority of our life. Often times it is only when we are truly convinced 100% of his love that we find the motivation to push on. However, a time does arrive when we realize that we are past the basics and we need to start in on the stuff that will lead to further growth, where we will step into our "regular" duties. Hebrews 6 deals a lot with this, moving on from basic training:

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)

Sometimes I find it very frustrating being a pastor and having to deal with the same foundational stuff again and again in people who should be well past it. Unity of the Body, spiritual gifts, love for our brothers and sisters in Christ should all be a given. Yet, I talk to other pastors who just want to do their own thing. I talk to people who have been followers of Jesus for 20 years and still do not know how to forgive. I speak to others who have never done anything to serve Jesus except to attend church. There is either a problem with the teaching or a problem with the students' understanding. Listen to this warning:

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8)

There is a foundation that is laid, a soil that is tilled, because something is going to be built and something that is going to grow. If our life is not  being built up, if nothing is being produced through us for other people to benefit from, there is a problem. A proper life that is built on the foundation of obedience produces good works, physically and spiritually. A Christian life is a producing life because the blessings of God in us produces incredible things. A life that is not producing will be cut off. What is the purpose of this warning? Simple, to prevent Christians from getting fat on the blessings that are intended for others:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:10-12)

I am afraid that is where most of us are, stuck in the laziness of beginnings. We are too lazy to finish the basic training. We do not want to go through the pain of having our soil tilled. We would rather sit back and receive the blessings, consume them and let everyone else fend for themselves. People do not even understand how the Body functions because they refuse to take their place in it. If it is frustrating for me I wonder how much more so for our Father? The first step is for every believer to understand that they are called to maturity and it is the purpose of their life in this place. Remember this from a few days ago:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 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. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

My longing as a pastor is to see everyone accept this reality and to have a desire to move on in their maturity. To understand your place in the Body is to move on from milk to solid food. Let's finish up with the basic training and get on with our mission. Tomorrow, express your desire to your pastor to become more in Christ, to step into your destiny, to finish your foundational training and move into the meat of the mission. Make it a declaration so the enemy will know another warrior has just stepped onto the field of battle. Mark the territory God has given you and stand, allowing the Lord to produce in you a crop that will bless the nations. Together, let's show the world that Jesus still loves them by being the mature believers our Father desires.

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