I remember the slogan: Milk – it does a body good. Maybe it’s even still around. But for the Christian, milk is only for a season. As Christ followers, we are to “get beyond milk” in our journey as believers. Too many people in churches today haven’t grown up to solid food. And by solid food, I don’t mean deep doctrinal truths that only the spiritual elite ever discover!
Some people mistakenly interpret the Hebrews passage about milk to refer to believers who are new in the faith and need to learn the hard doctrines. But the author goes on to say that many should be teachers by now, but aren’t. So I see this, not as a reference to new believers, but immature ones. The ones that don’t understand and practice love and grace (chapter 6).
The apostle Paul also uses the analogy of milk/meat (solid food) relating to maturing in practice in 1 Corinthians 3. He said to them: I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?He goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 13 (about believers maturing and practicing authentic love): As for knowledge, it will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
[By the way, I have heard all my life “church people” talk about passages of the Bible that are “meaty”. Or about pastors/teachers that “give the congregation meat, not milk.” I’ve never understood what they meant by this biblically. Do they think that the meat of the Word of God is the Greek/Hebrew translation? or the history behind the passage? Or some deeper hidden meaning of the passage than what is plainly stated?]
I recently read a great commentary on this that helped me: “There is certainly no implication that extra-biblical doctrines may be classified as ‘solid food’ in contrast to biblical ‘milk.’It is better to see the relationship between ‘milk’ and ‘solid food’ teachings as one being a deeper application of the other. As believers learn, accept and obey fundamental Christian teaching, they mature and progress to deeper understanding of those same teachings.”
I love that! So as I’m studying James, I’m realizing that for me to go beyond milk is this: Putting into practice the learning! James said we ought not to be quick to be teachers. I think that is so true, because practicing the truth is the sign of maturity, not just aquiring the knowledge of the truth. So while many people cry for “more meat” in our churches, I agree with them. I think we just disagree with what the meat is. 🙂