By Drew Zuverink
"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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."
Have you ever met a child who was far too old to be breast feeding, and yet they still do? Like, you know it's bad when the child can run right up to their mom and start feeding - without her having to bend down. At some point, all children are expected to grow out of certain phases and into new, more difficult, and more mature ones. But plenty of children don't want to give up the easy life of being a child. Growing up is difficult and being an adult is hard work. Can't they just stay a child forever?
No they can't. At some point it isn't cute anymore to be breast feeding, or having your diaper changed, or crying because you didn't get your way, or refusing to get a job. In fact, the older that a person is, the more those things are just flat out wrong and disturbing. The same is true when a person has been a Christian for years and yet they refuse to put any effort into their spiritual maturity. It's not cute, it's not just sad, it's sinful.
Good thing that most of us aren't like that though, right? Wrong. Our West Michigan church culture breeds spiritual infants. If you created a stereotype of the average Christian in our churches it would probably look something like:
- Goes to church once on most Sunday mornings.
- Might stick around for Sunday school, might not.
- Doesn't read the Bible on their own. If they do, it isn't every day and it better not take them more than 10 minutes.
- Doesn't pray. Unless something bad happens. Unless they really want something.
- Doesn't really think about Jesus very often. Maybe here and there. There's just so many other things to think about.
- Might volunteer at church so long as it doesn't disrupt their life too much - and definitely not more than once a month.
People have all sorts of excuses for this. Have you ever been in an accountability group with other Christians? My guess is one person shared something along the lines of, "I've really been lacking in my devotions lately. In the past week I might have prayed once or twice and I only took my Bible off of the shelf once." (Never mind the fact that they've shared this almost every week you've gotten together). Then someone else will encourage them, "It's alright man. Don't be too hard on yourself. It's hard to remember to do those things, life get's busy." Anyone else heard (or said) something similar to this?
Of course you have. But in that exchange there isn't real accountability. Instead, the never ending encouragement and self love enables more spiritual laziness. Instead of telling each other that it's hard to be a Christian in America we need to be honest and tell each other that it's NOT! Like at all. What part of waking up and reading your Bible with a cup of coffee is hard? Tell me. Did anyone try to shoot you for attending church this past Sunday? Did anyone even try to stop you? (Besides maybe your own family because you've neglected anything spiritual in your home so it's boring to them now). I don't mean to trivialize some of the difficult experiences that Christian's have, but those are few and far between for most of us.
The reason why most church folk aren't very Biblically smart, in love with Jesus, or dedicated to church, isn't because it's hard to do those things. No, it's because they are sinfully refusing to grow up spiritually and mature into the person that God wants them to become. They are stubbornly clinging to their lifestyle of spiritual laziness where they don't have to try very hard or sacrifice very much. I know this sounds harsh, but in a culture where everyone is patting each other on the back, sometimes we just need to say it like it is.
If you identify as one of the spiritual infants described in this blog, I am sorry if I caused you sorrow. But like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it - I see that it hurt you, but only for a little while - yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret."
Do the work of repentance which involves life change. Grow up spiritually, because your lack of effort isn't no big deal - it's flat out sinful and disturbing to God. The good news? Jesus is extremely patient with those who repent of their sin, even if they've been doing it for a long time. He's ready to walk with you into an intimate relationship, as well as a mature and obedient life. The only question is, will you make the changes?