WHAT DO WE HAVE TO EAT? . As far back as I can remember mature Christians around me have t

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WHAT DO WE HAVE TO EAT? . As far back as I can remember mature Christians around me have talked about sermons as MILK or MEAT. I don't remember ever asking any of them what they mean by these terms, so I can say only what I think they mean by them. By milk I think they mean a clear , easy account of the basic Christian faith - how Christians can be set right with God and how they can work towards holiness. By meat I think they mean a rigorous examination of the subtle doctrines and mysteries of theology. . They seem to think that each diet has its place. Milk is all right for anybody, but it is especially for people whose mental grasp of Christianity is shallow. Meat is for people with better training and more inquiring minds. Milk is likely to soften disagreements between Christians and to play down distinctions between doctrine. Meat, on the other hand, is apt to emphasize these differences and to trace their implications through obscure issues. This, I think is what people mean by milk and meat. MILK AND MEAT IN HEBREWS . This milk and meat talk comes from the Bible. The last four verses of Hebrews 5 say, "We have much to say about this [the priesthood of Christ], but it is hard to explain, because you are to slow to learn. ...You need milk, being still an infant, not acquainted with the teaching of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." . This sounds at first like what I described earlier. When we look a bit further though, we find a big difference. Hebrews 6: 1-8 points out that what makes milk MILK is not that it is easier to understand, but that it must come from our Christian growth. Certain people have to be on it for a long time, not because they can't understand meaty teachings, but because they haven't put the first teachings into practice yet. They are spiritually lazy and proud, consequently they are in danger of falling away altogether. . So, too, the solid food of Christian wisdom is not for the intelligent. Rather, its for persons who persistently deny themselves and follow Christ's example of loving service to others. The mature are those "who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish god from evil." The kind of food we need depends not on what we can understand, but on how we live. MILK AND MEAT IN 1 CORINTHIANS . The Bible says more about milk and meat. In 1 Corinthians 3:2-3, Paul writes, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?" . A meaty sermon, accordingly to the notion first outlined here, might very likely accent differences between Christians. According to this notion, Christians who eat solid food are those who are zealous for doctrinal distinctiveness and wary of cooperating with other kinds of Christians. According to the Bible, though, these Christians are fooling themselves. They aren't ready for solid food; they need milk. . The Greek word translated as jealousy in verse three points to a partisan zeal at the expense of the larger Christian fellowship. This kind of zeal is not a mark of Christian maturity, but of spiritual childishness. We should all try to become sensitive to doctrinal purity and to doctrinal error, but we must work our doctrinal sensitivity into a full-grown, healthy Christian personality. Otherwise we will wind up fighting with each other, suspecting each other of evil purposes, and finding it hard even to talk to one another. . Try to remember 1 Corinthians 3 as you work out problems in your spiritual growth and relationships with other Christians that are different from you. Written by: James l. Vanderlaan Computers for Christ - Chicago

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