Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are We Raising Spiritual Infants?

When I came across this article recently, my mind instantly jumped to spiritual things (as it often does). This young lady, Brooke Greenberg, was born 16 years ago. Yet by all appearances, she is still a baby. Doctors are baffled as to why this girl doesn't age, and they are doing all sorts of research to try to unveil the mystery that's surrounding her right now. As a father, I can barely imagine what that would be like to have a 16 year old baby! Some parents of teenagers might feel like their child acts like a baby. But these parents actually have a teenager who still is in diapers, can barely speak, and needs the constant attention of a baby. Can you imagine what that would be like?

God knows exactly what that's like. Paul knew exactly what that's like. The author of Hebrews knew exactly what that's like. Because it happens to people spiritually all the time! It happened to me when I was younger.

We hear the gospel, and God changes our hearts so that we believe it. But then, way too often, we just stagnate. We've been given new life by God, but we don't mature. If that happens, we're spiritual babies, plain and simple.

Just as the images of a 16 year old baby look odd, unnatural, and strange to us, so should the image of a teenager or adult who's been a believer for years (or even decades) but knows little more about God's Word than they did way back when and whose life shows very little progress toward godliness. That's where passages like these two come flooding into my mind:

Hebrews 5:11-14
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 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, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
1 Cor. 3:1-2
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, ...

So as parents, we need to not let our children--who are growing physically--stagnate and stall out in their spiritual growth. If they are genuine believers....

As they get taller, their standards for their own behavior should grow higher with them.
As they outgrow their shoes and their feet get bigger, so should their willingness to use those feet to go wherever God sends them.
As their voice gets deeper, so should their appreciation for Christ's death in their place.
As they learn about history, math, and science, their nose should be in the Bible too!
As they hone their intellectual and athletic abilities, their spiritual gifts should be being honed too!

Let's be sure that we are helping our children mature in their faith and their obedience to Christ so that when they leave our homes someday they are not physically mature but spiritually stunted. Make the spiritual health of your child a priority today.

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