An infant cries with hunger when it’s time to have milk… Mothers can discern the cry and respond accordingly. The infant will persist in crying until he/she gets the feed! As months fly by, the infant grows and begins to wean off milk to embark on solids. The toddler now starts to make ‘choices’ in its own way – rejecting food with textures or flavours that he/she “dislikes”. Does this child have a ‘developed’ mind of an adult? No way! So, does the child have a ‘right’ to making choices? To a certain extent, yes! As much as the parents have to exercise discipline with the child so that he/she is trained in the right way to go, we also have to remember that God has created another human being with its own mind too.
I remember when I was about 10 years old, we returned to our home town in Sri Lanka after having spent my childhood in the U.K. where we drank bottles of cold milk at school. In Sri Lanka my aunt (whom I stayed with) enforced a mug of boiled milk at nights. I simply detested it and would sit in the dark kitchen without even taking a sip. Finally my aunt would get fed up of forcing me. Only after she emptied the mug, would I get up and go to my room – as I was told not to leave the chair without drinking it. I wouldn’t be quiet while sitting there, I would protest but yet nonetheless stay put. Now decades later, I still don’t like boiled milk – I can’t stand the layer of ‘cream’ or whatever it is called. It makes me squeamish. But then again, now that I’m older and have been able to observe patterns – I realise that boiled milk triggers phlegm and hence asthma. As a child I didn’t know better but my body obviously didn’t want to accept what didn’t agree with it. (Yet there is a fine line between fussy eaters and a child protesting due to discomfort!).
Children and adults who once survived on milk when infants, now eat a hopefully balanced healthy diet mainly of solids. We may have a component of milk right throughout or lives but that is just a supplement instead of the main stuff. (Of course most elderly folks revert to a dependent ‘childhood’ but that’s a different story altogether!). Even throughout their growing years, toddlers and young children have a part to play. The love that they give out is incredibly healing. Have the innocent soft young arms that wrap around you in childish love touched your heart? Have you known the joy of a child climbing into your lap and trying all sorts of tricks not to let you go home after your visit? It gives us a sense of belonging, of feeling loved. The child gives back to community in its own way – if only we will recognise it.
Our spiritual growth is none the different. We rely on teachers and preachers to give us the “milk” when we first come to Christ as we are then ‘baby Christians’: “As newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” – 1 Peter 2:2,3. At this stage, teachers have to be like Paul saying, “I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). In fact Paul continues to write listing the ‘signs’ of still being worldly and not spiritual, “For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not mere men?” The NKJV phrases it, “and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”
Yet as we reach the toddler stage, we begin to not merely accept what is fed, but rather think it through, evaluate it and test it… We reject food that we don’t think is prepared according to God’s Bread. As we become mature in Christ, we don’t rely on being fed but rather we begin to feed others. The author of Hebrews pens,
“In fact by this time 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” – Hebrew 5:12-14.
Sadly we often fall into the trap of remaining infants in Christ. We don’t begin to train ourselves by constant use of solid food – of God’s Word. Instead we depend on what is being fed and thus don’t grow. Sadly many who teach enjoy their position of power and keep the infant as an infant. Each person has a part to play in the Body of Christ – no part is greater than the other. We saw David having the anointing of a king but till the time was right for his ultimate calling, God still used him in various ways… As young as he was, he killed Goliath and also sang to drive away the evil spirits and thus quieten King Saul. Joseph, on his track to becoming a leader was entrusted many responsibilities along the way and we read that God’s favour was upon them.
Leaders often don’t allow toddlers in Christ to step into their callings saying, “they aren’t ready” or “it isn’t time”. Just as much a kid can give out love, sincerely to make another’s day, so it is in the Kingdom of God. A good teacher would encourage the believer to step into his/her callings and fulfill his / her roles in the Body of CHrist. Many leaders DEMAND ‘humility’ and force someone to step into a role that is not where God has placed HIS giftings according to HIS choice for the individual.
We read of the twelve being mindful of what they were called to do, and not going off track,
“It would be not right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers choose seven men from among you who are known to be full fo the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn the responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2-4). No, not all are called to be teachers – we all have a different role to play so that all of us can mutally edify one another and build up the Kingdom of God as ONE body of Christ… in the various roles. But we are NOT called to be stagnant in our walk with Christ, still wanting milk.
- Where are you today? Are you new in Christ? Then desire eagerly to be fed with spiritual milk.
- If you have received milk, are you now constantly using God’s Word and trained yourself to distinguish from good and evil? Are you acquainted with the teachings of righteousness?
- Are you receiving solid food and having milk supplements?
- Are you spiritual or are you worldly? Are you full of envy, strife and divisions? Are you quenching the gift of God in someone else by your jealousy and thus imposing your decisions on the other? Remember what you are doing is against God and not the individual believer?
- On the other hand, are you allowing a ‘leader’ to quench your gift and thus are you not doing what God is calling you to do? Your anointing for a higher calling may be there and God could very well be leading you towards it… but on the way are you doing what He has called you to do?
All this is not possible if you are not digging deep into God’s Word and getting to know Him. The Holy Spirit inspires and gives revelation. Don’t rely on the advice of people or the ways of the world – depend on hearing from Him. He grants the desires of our hearts that are in line with His plan for our lives… Yet getting our desires doesn’t necessarily mean that they are God’s plan for our lives as we do have a struggle between flesh and spirit, no matter how mature we are. Wait on Him and be led by Him… Constantly digest the Bread of Life!!!