Tag Archives: maturity

Live as adult children! (how God’s list of clean and unclean foods in Deuteronomy 14 matters to Christians, part 2)

30 Oct
Photo by Laura Marques on Unsplash

How do you feel about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  At Faith Church when Mothers and Fathers Days roll around in May and June, we take a cautious approach because we’ve heard from a number of people that these holidays are complicated.  Maybe you know the feeling.  It could be that your earthly mother or father is or was a difficult or abusive person.  Perhaps they were distant.  Sure, we are taught to honor and respect our parents, and we should, but for many, those relationships are fraught with pain.  The result is that seeing God as parent is also difficult for some people. 

This week are studying Deuteronomy 14:1-21, looking at how God’s list of clean and unclean foods matters to Christians.  (Please read part 1 in the series, where I introduce the chapter by talking about the time some friends offered me the chance to suck eyeballs out of a fish!)  Today, we get started looking at this passage, but before we get into God’s menu, we need to spend time in verse 1: “You are the children of the Lord your God.”  That is a significant statement describing Israel’s relationship to God.  He goes on to tell them that God chose them as his treasured possession.  For those of you who struggle with the concept of God as your heavenly father, I encourage you to allow these verses to settle in to your heart and mind.  Before God gets into his food menu, it is vital that Israel see themselves as loved, children of God.

But isn’t Deuteronomy a record of God’s covenant with Israel?  Yes, it is.  So, doesn’t that mean the concept of Israel as God’s beloved children is for them only?  While Deuteronomy 14 is for Israel, the phrase “children of God” is carried over to the church in the New Testament.  The Apostle John, in particular, enjoys the phrase, using it more than any of the other NT writers. A couple instances are quite famous:

John 1:12: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

1 John 3:1: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

I take it quite seriously if you have a hard time conceiving of God as father, and seeing yourself as son or daughter of God.  If that is painful for you because you have had a difficult relationship with your parents, I don’t belittle that at all.  But given what we have read in Deuteronomy 14 and from the Apostle John, I invite you to read on, as perhaps God wants you to revisit your identification as children of God.

As teenagers and adults, it can be hard for us to see ourselves as children.  For many of us, it has been a long time since we were children.  We forget.  When we were children, many of us longed not to be children.  We wanted to be adults.  Perhaps you’ve long held the perspective that adulthood is superior to childhood, probably based in the truth that most cases maturity is better than immaturity.

A surprising change happens in many adults, though, when they discover within a longing for childhood.  We use the description “adulting” whenever we are acting like adults, often begrudgingly, because life has forced adult-like behavior upon us such as paying bills and getting our car inspected; in short, “adulting” is being responsible.  In the middle of “adulting,” how many of us long for childhood?  But what are we longing for in those moments?  I suspect we miss the effortless days of childhood, when we had freedom from responsibility, leaving many of us adults feeling trapped.

I’d like to propose that the concept of being loved children of God should free us, but not from responsibility.  Instead, when we embrace our identity as the children who God loves, we are free to play.  Writer Marilyn McEntyre taught me this concept in her powerful book, Caring For Words In A Culture of Lies:

“To play is to claim our freedom as beloved children of God and to perform our most sacred tasks—what we feel we are called to do in the world—with abandon and delight, free to experiment and fail, free to find out and reconsider, free to say something we might need to take back, free to look stupid in the interests of honesty because there are no grades…there is no competition in the Kingdom of Heaven…Children who feel completely safe and loved are playful.  To play is to live in grace.  And to live in grace is not to ignore the law…but to embrace it as an aid to abundant life.  So in the interests of abundant life, good stewards play.” (196-7)  And “reclaiming an appropriate practice of play is one of the challenges of adulthood.” (202)

Because you are loved children of God, you are free to play.  As McEntyre says, this adult play is not childish or immaturity.  Instead, seeing ourselves as loved children of God is a recapturing of the healthy freedom of children at play.  Because we are so loved by God we can experiment and wonder and also take risks, just like the person who said, “if you’re hanging on for dear life, beloved child of God, let go.”  In other words, trust him, he loves you.  You are free, child of God, so live life to the fullest.  What will that freedom to play look like for you?

Two odd but important Christian phrases about becoming spiritually mature

27 Jun

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

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.

Dealing with immature faith – 1st Corinthians 3:1-4, 18-23

26 Feb

Last week I mentioned that the recycling bin at my house is full of milk jugs most weeks.  So far this week we have four in there, with another two likely by tomorrow night when we put the bin out for the trash men.  I feel like my kids were drinking milk more vigorously this week or something. Maybe they heard my sermon and got freaked out, like we were going to really wean them off milk, and they’re thinking they better get their milk fix while they can.  Geesh.

But that’s kinda the problem Paul is talking about in this section.  This group of Christians who should have moved beyond spiritual milk have not.  And he knows it is true because of their behavior.  Paul says that their faith is immature because of the quarreling and jealousy in their church.

We had a wonderful discussion afterwards in sermon discussion group.  What does it mean to go on to maturity?  How do allow the Lord to impact our behavior so we actually show that we have been weaned off spiritual milk?

Is your recycling bin always full of milk jugs?

22 Feb

Ours is.

The Kime household consistently knocks back 6-8 gallons of milk per week.  Think about that a minute.  Even if we average 5 gallons per week, and the price per gallon of milk is $3.50, you do the math.  Now multiply that by four weeks in a month.  Yeah, that’s not chump change.  We joke around a lot about buying a cow.

In December the Farm Bill had us a bit uneasy. Guess how we felt this week when we read this?

Red Alert!  Doomsday.  Armageddon.  Pray for rain in California!

Or how about weening the kids off milk???

I’m glad they love milk, as it is healthy.  I personally love milk on my cereal, which is my normal breakfast a couple mornings each week. The kids, though, don’t put milk on their cereal!  Instead they drink milk at meals, before meals, after meals, and pretty much all day long.  60 cents more for every gallon?  It has to stop!

So this milk price increase and weening the kids off milk, gets me thinking about the maturation process a child goes through.  From mother’s milk or formula to regular milk to solid foods.  They can’t survive on just milk, can they?  We ween them so they can grow and mature with healthy nutrition. Can you imagine a baby that never, ever progressed beyond breast milk or formula?  Is that even possible?  As Paul continues his teaching in 1st Corinthians, he uses the imagery of an infant drinking milk that has not moved on to solid food.   How does that relate to the followers of Jesus in the church at Corinth?  What is his point?

Join on Sunday as we study 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 18-23 to hear what Paul has to say!

Going deeper with Jesus, and other phrases that make you think “blah, blah, blah.”

9 Feb

“Going deeper with Christ.”

How many times have you heard that?  A billion?

“More passion for Christ!  More intimate relationship with Jesus!”

Blah, blah, blah.  We’ve heard it over and over…

Any of you hear that phrase “going deeper” and tune out because you’ve heard it so many times, and you’re just not sure what it means OR how to go deeper?  Maybe you’re not sure you want to try.

You ever hear someone call another person “deep.”?

What is a deep person?

What is a mature person?

What does it mean to grow up?

Here’s a video clip that, when it comes to going deeper with Jesus, or when it comes to your relationship with church, just might describe the situation precisely.