If you’ve ever watched a newborn nursing or drinking from a bottle, it is wild how hungry they can be. As they grow a few months, and they start to be a bit more aware, they can get very excited when you start talking about their bottle. They shake, they wave their arms, and sometimes start crying because it is taking you soooo long to get the bottle ready. Then when you hand them the bottle,they slam it into their mouths, gulping furiously, and their crying stops in an instant! I remember watching our kids do that, and thinking they are craving that milk.
Christians, that’s how we should be.
Yesterday we looked at how Peter, in 1st Peter 2:1-3 says that there are five church family killers we should get rid of. But Peter doesn’t stop there. Peter doesn’t just want the people to stop things. He also wants them to start things. Remove the poor behaviors, for sure, but then add what?
He says in verse 2, “like newborns, you should crave pure spiritual milk.” Again he mentions the concept of new birth! Since the beginning of his letter, this is now the third time Peter has brought up the idea that Christians are reborn. When you are reborn in Christ, you gain citizenship in a new country, and you become part of a new family of love. Now Peter says we should be like newborn babies who crave milk. But he calls it “pure spiritual milk.”
Odd Phrase #1: Do you crave pure spiritual milk?
That’s a weird question, isn’t it? “Do you crave pure spiritual milk?” I don’t think I ever in my life asked that question before. What is pure spiritual milk?
It’s pure. That means it is not infected, it is not diluted. It is not half and half. It’s not skim. It’s not pasteurized. It is pure, like raw milk straight from a cow.
Also that pure spiritual milk has a purpose. Peter says in verse 2 that the purpose of this milk is that, “by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
This pure spiritual milk is stuff that helps you grow. But not physical growth. It is spiritual milk and it helps you grow spiritually, in your salvation, Peter says.
Odd Phrase #2: Grow up in your salvation
“Grow up in your salvation” is one of those Bible-sounding phrases that I could skip by really quickly assuming that you know what that means. It is a very Christian kind of thing to say. We Christians talk about salvation as if it is normal and everyone knows about it. But do they?
“Grow up in your salvation.” Look at that phrase. Who talks like that? You won’t hear that phrase anywhere in our culture.
You will hear “Grow up.” If a person is acting immature, we say, “Grow up!” Why? They are not acting their age.
Or we use “grow up” from the perspective of a child who is dreaming about what they want to do when they grow up. Usually it is about the career they want to have. We often ask children, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Of course there are some adults who are also wondering what they want to be when they grow up. Usually that is because they aren’t sure they have found that thing, that meaning, that fulfillment, in their career.
We know the term “grow up.” It refers to a change that needs to take place. A development in our lives. It is a development toward maturity, right? Growing up means that we are putting aside immaturity, kind of like Paul saying “Get rid of” the family killers in your life, and we are moving toward maturity.
Craving and taking in pure spiritual milk so that we can grow up in our salvation is just like that.
Our salvation is a way that Peter is describing our relationship with Jesus. By his life, death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to be saved from the penalty of sin. When we trust in and obey him, as Peter said in verses 1:21-25, we are saved, we are reborn as citizens of a new spiritual country, the Kingdom of Jesus, and thus we are reborn as new babies into a new spiritual family, the church.
That’s what happens when we trust and obey; we are saved, we are reborn. Thus the image of new babies is perfect for the Christians that Peter is writing to. They need to see themselves new babies in a new family. Thus they should want to grow up and mature.
The implications are clear. Christians are not to stay in the infant stage. Christians should grow up. Growing up as followers of Jesus requires that we take in a form of nourishment called pure spiritual milk. Just as a baby derives nutrients and calories from milk, and that causes the baby to grow, so Christians must take in pure spiritual milk, and the spiritual energy it brings will cause them to grow and mature as followers of Christ.
Also, Peter is saying this pure spiritual milk is not option. He says we should crave it. We need to want it. That means we need to have humble teachable hearts to see those areas of our lives that are immature, where we need growth. Then we can seek pure spiritual milk to help us in those areas.
Finally, Peter answers where this spiritual sustenance comes from.
In verse 3 he is saying, “Christians, you have tasted that the Lord is good. You know that he is the real deal. He is the truth, and because you have tasted the goodness of the Lord, that means that the pure spiritual milk is from the Lord.”
Only the Lord can satisfy the longing of your life. In other words, if you want to grow up in your relationship from the Lord, you need sustenance that only comes from him. That’s what pure spiritual milk is. Pure spiritual milk is spiritual sustenance, spiritual calories that are only available from God. If you want to grow up in your salvation, if you want to become more mature in your practice of discipleship to Jesus, drink more spiritual milk.
Check back in tomorrow as we’ll give practical suggestions about how to get this pure spiritual milk and take it in to our lives on a regular basis.