Are you ready for solid food?
How to move on from spiritual milk.
How long have you been a Christian?
I’ve been a follower of Jesus pretty much for as long as I can remember. But really, I don’t think it was until I was about 11 or 12 (or even a little later) that I started understanding that I needed to grow in my faith, and not just stand still.
When babies are born, they can only drink milk. In time though, as they grow, they transition to solid food, which keeps helping them to grow.
In the Bible, several writers use the example of this transition from milk to solid food to explain what a Christian should do once coming to faith.
Hebrews 5:12-14 reads:
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.
Let’s take a closer look at this.
Stuck on milk
The writer to the Hebrews is chastising his readers for their lack of maturity, despite the fact that they have been Christians for a while. He says that they should be ready to teach others, but instead they have to be taught the fundamentals all over again.
It’s a wonderful thing that we are saved by grace alone. Even a little child can come to Jesus asking for forgiveness - all they have to understand is that Jesus died to save them from their sins! But as we learn and grow, we should crave more than just this basic truth. We should crave a deeper understanding of God and his will, and how we can be more like him - this is the ‘teaching about righteousness’ the writer refers to.
Starting on solids
The writer to the Hebrews encourages his readers to make the transition to solid food. Just prior to this passage, he has introduced a complicated idea about high priests and Jesus being in the order of Melchizedek… which sounds pretty weird! He’s worried that the Hebrews won’t be able to understand because they haven’t been growing and trying to progress to solid food - they’ve just been sticking with milk.
So, he wants them to start on solids. He says that those on solid food constantly use the Bible to teach themselves to distinguish good from evil, so they can live a life that truly honours God.
Making the transition
The writer to the Hebrews knows that baby Christians shouldn’t stay babies forever. We need to learn and grow, and become confident in handling the Bible, discerning God’s will and sharing it with others. But how do you get from milk to solids?
There are so many things that can help us grow and understand more. Here are some ideas.
- Meet with other Christians. Ask them questions, share your knowledge together and be encouraged as you learn more about God from his people.
- Read the Bible. After all, this is the solid food! Read the easy to understand bits and the hard bits. Wrestle with Revelation, jump into James and dive into Deuteronomy.
- Get help. Read Bible commentaries, listen to sermons or buy a study Bible to help you understand the tricky passages, so that you can grow.
- Put it into action. Use what you’ve learnt together with others and on your own to become more like Jesus. Think about what you learn about God, and what you learn about yourself, and pray that God would use all this learning to grow and change you.
The foundation of Christianity - the milk - is something wonderful and not something we should forget. But milk alone, though perfectly capable of sustaining us, can only grow us so far! Enjoy all the wide ranging tastes of God’s word, and make the transition to solid food.