In case you couldn’t tell, Lincoln loves to eat. In fact, Hailee and I spend much of our time calling him a chunky monkey. That’s just the way it be.
His latest trend, however, is rejecting our efforts to give him sustenance and keep him alive so he can instead try (and fail) to feed himself. We’ll introduce him to something we think he’ll love, but he rejects it. So we figure maybe he doesn’t like it. No, turns out he just wants to feed himself.
He’s actually just in the process of deciding that maybe he’s grown up past this whole “being fed” thing and now we’ve graduated to the “I’ll feed myself, thanks,” age. The irony is that we’re still preparing food for him, he just gets to take part in the last step or two. But before we even know it, he’ll be making his own food and keeping himself alive and stuff. Weird.
Anyway, that’s all a natural progression. It’s just how the world works. We’re born helpless, but over time we learn to grow past that into a wonderful maturity where our growth explodes.
It’s not a process that’s unique to physical growth, either.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” - Hebrews 5:12-14
Just as we are born helpless babes, the cold world against us, when we are “born again” we have to start somewhere. We start with milk. The elementary doctrines of the Gospel, the foundation of repentance from dead works and bolstering our faith in God. And that’s acceptable, for a time. But we have to grow past that.
The problem that seems to be common among believers (both when Hebrews was written and today) is that Christians find themselves stuck. Either not wanting to grow from spiritual sluggishness (Heb. 5:11; 6:12), or from just plain not knowing how—a lack of discipleship.
It’s a place we find ourselves often. “I can’t take part in ____ because I need to be fed,” or “I would love to serve, but I just really need to be fed,” or maybe, “I’m just too busy, when else would I find time to be fed?”
There’s a huge emphasis on this “being fed” thing. Which is great. For a time. But there’s clearly a time to move past that. Lincoln is fed up with being fed (see what I did there?). He wants to feed himself.
When will we stop being content with slouching back in our faith and waiting for a Sunday School teacher or pastor to spoon feed us the elementary doctrines of the Gospel and crave the riches that can only be found by diving deep into the well of Living Water?
Can you imagine a grown adult talking about the need to be fed in any other context? Maybe a conversation with your boss:
Your boss walks by your office. “Don’t forget our meeting at 11:30 this morning,” he says.
”Oh, no can do,” you respond, leaning back in your chair. “I just really need to be fed.”
The boss steps back into your doorway. ”You mean find something to eat?”
”No, I mean be fed. I need to find someone to prepare a meal for me and actually feed it to me.”
”You know how that sounds right? You mean you can’t feed yourself?”
You shrug. “When do I have the time? Honestly, I’m not even sure I’d know where to start. I’m very busy, you know.”
Your boss simply stares at you, trying to find the punchline. Realizing you’re serious, he shakes his head and walks out, leaving you to the mercy of your growling stomach.
It’s kind of a silly example, I know, but it’s how many Christians act every single week.
We must learn to move on from the milk of simple faith and graduate to the solid food that is fro the mature. “For those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice.” We have to be in the Word each and every day. We have to soak ourselves in the Word of God, returning to that bottomless well each day and as often as we can. We must pray. Not just to bless our Chick-fil-a (why bless what the Lord has already blessed?) but to seek the heart of God and grow in our relationship with Him.
Then something powerful happens. When we come to church or a Bible study or a small group, we’re not simply there to “be fed” as if the teacher or leader is going to mix up the holy apple juice and “choo choo” it straight into our gullet. No, we are ravenous. We are ready to feast at the banquet table of the knowledge of the power of God. We see that the teachers and preachers in our lives aren’t feeding us, they’re setting out a table—a buffet of truth and rich instruction so that we can approach and fill ourselves up with the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth.
As we feed ourselves and mature from spiritual milk to solid food, we see the world differently. We approach teaching with a new hunger. We approach the truths of God with an insatiable appetite—fortunately, the well will never run dry.
Lincoln tries to eat everything. If it fits, it’s going in. If it doesn’t, he’s for darn sure going to try. Maybe it’s time to be more like a 1-year-old in our faith. It’s time to want to feed ourselves. The imagine what we could do.