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
. 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
. 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
. 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
. 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