Grow UP Part 1: Solid Food--Obedience


Immaturity is the bane of Christianity today. Believers need to grow up in the faith.


Grow UP Part 1: Solid Food--Obedience

The task of the disciple is to Grow Deep in one’s relationship with the Lord, to Grow Up in the faith, and to Grow Fruit that God’s love can reach others. We’ve spent some time considering issues relating to growing deeper in one’s relationship with God. We’ll consider growing up next. The verses of scripture informing this series of teachings are Hebrews 6:1-3—

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NIV)
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

Today we are going to figure out why for is the, therefore, therefore? What some of these elementary teachings are, then I want to delve into what solid spiritual food is.

We are to grow up, to go on to maturity in our faith. Now the, therefore, means we need to look at what is written before to create the context for understanding what is being said now. Therefore is a conclusion. So we need to go back a bit.  


Hebrews 5:7-8 (NIV)
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.

Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. We naturally want to avoid suffering. I think you might be in need of the therapy that can be discovered in God’s forgiveness if you want to suffer, guilt might be driving your self-punishing behaviors. Jesus didn’t want to suffer (Matthew 26:39). I’ve made my own prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears, you do that when you are in the midst of suffering. When the situations of life have become distressful, miserable and then moved on into agonizing, you learn all about prayers, petitions with loud cries and tears. We know from the life of Jesus that His loving Heavenly Father did not deliver His one and only son from the situations and circumstances of life that drove Jesus to ask for escape. Suffering taught Jesus something important. It’s a lesson in maturity.

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV)
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, 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.

Don’t worry we’ll come back quickly to suffering’s lesson in maturity. What the author writes here is rather harsh. It’s a rebuke that the believers have become sluggish and apathetic in their spiritual growth. After all this time you still need to be spoon fed. Some time ago you acknowledged your need for a savior; you believed that Jesus is the savior you need; you committed yourself to be Jesus’ disciple, and you asked God to save you. You learned about faith, the forgiveness of sin, you learned about baptism participating in that ritual symbolizing death to the old way of life and resurrection into the new way of life. You’ve been taught about life eternal and the judgment. But you’re not self- feeding, you’re not reproducing, you’re not growing up. The result is that you are still child-like and you are easily deceived, you lack discernment, you still need someone to tell you what is good and what is evil, what is spiritually authentic and what is spiritually counterfeit, what is permissible conduct for a believer and what is forbidden behavior. When they do you ignore their wisdom. Perpetual infancy is a problem. The solution is to grow up.

The scripture reveals that Jesus learned obedience from his times of suffering. Jesus told everyone that what is most important is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength--Matthew 22:37.  This is what I have discovered about what suffering teaches you when it comes to obeying this command to love God.
  
There’s a premarital counseling book entitled “After Every Wedding Comes a Marriage.” At the wedding it’s easy to say, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, you’re in love, you mean it, you make the vow, give your word, put your honor on the line. But going off happily ever after—well those you have been happily married, 10, 20, 30 years will tell you “married life is good, but it has its difficulties.” Marriage, as in life, has it’s challenges, difficulties, problems, and sometimes if not overcome “I Got You Babe,” turns into “I Didn’t Sign Up For This.” A good marriage is all about relationship, (imagine that) and relationships are hard work; for many, it is a joyful hard work, but hard work nonetheless.

When things are good, when things are normal, its easy to love God. You feel blessed, your life is well. There is a future before you.  When you are thriving it’s easy to say, I love Lord; it’s easy to say I am a disciple of Jesus. We sing our praise songs about how good God is, how God answers prayer, how God delivers, and we go our merry way.

When things suddenly turn bad, when your devastated, depressed, in despair; when your prayers don’t get the speedy answer you hoped when what you so desperately wanted, needed, has passed its expiration date. When the cup doesn’t pass from you—Do you still love God?

Becoming mature means your love for God is not based on the blessings you have received and the blessings you hope for. Remember our definition of love when it's directed to God?

1 John 5:2-3 (MSG)
Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.

You are growing up when you keep God’s commands even when you feel God has deserted you.

The scripture reveals our God is a jealous God.

Ex 34:14 (MSG)
Don't worship any other god. [Yahweh]—his name is The-Jealous-One—is a jealous God.

God’s jealousy is not like our jealousy, God wants you to love Him, not His gifts, not the joy He bestows, not the peace He gives. Have you noticed that Celebrities tend to marry other Celebrities; that the rich elite tend to marry within the rich elite circle? Have you ever wondered why? Let me offer a hypothesis. If I am a man of means, I have fame, fortune and everything that goes with it, how do I know that gal I met at the coffee shop who works at Walmart, really loves me, or loves what she can get from me? Is her interest in me really love or is it self-interest? I love you for what you give me is not mature love. God, I will be totally devoted to you as long as you are nice to me, give me what I want when I want, the way I want.

When you suffer, all you have to cling to is God and God alone. I have gotten angry with God in my own immaturity when God was seemingly indifferent to my plight. “God, you can do anything!” God, the scripture tells me you love me!” “Why don’t you deliver me from my pain?” “Where are you in my grief, why did you allow this, why no miracle?” “Why are you silent?”

What did I learn? I am pretty certain God did not send the suffering, allow the suffering, or cause the suffering. Scripture says, at least in the Boswith paraphrased version—Good things happen, bad things happen on the righteous and the unrighteous, good weather and bad weather happen on the just and the unjust, happiness and heartache happen to the saint and the sinner.  That’s my version of Matthew 5:45. Suffering happens because we broke the world we live in. That’s one lesson—God didn’t do this to me, to my loved one, so I would mature. God takes the bad thing and works to bring good things out of it, God works to redeem the suffering.

Most importantly what I learned was obedience. I am to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, even in the darkest of nights, even in the midst of catastrophe, even when the cup does not pass. I can curse God and die or I can say blessed is the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).  I know obedience is the best option. Love God for who God is, not for what He can provide.

God’s grace held me close in my time of ranting, raving and complaining when I was pounding on heaven’s door demanding answers, and He grew me up by letting this truth be revealed to me. “Mike you loved me for all the gifts I have given you, now, love me for who I am.” That love is demonstrated in that you obey, even when there seem to be no blessings coming your way.
It’s when you obey that you can begin to distinguish God’s stealthy footsteps behind the scenes. It can take time. It doesn’t resolve the situation. But there is an encouragement to keep on in the faith even when a preponderance of evidence suggests your faith is misplaced. The solid spiritual food you need to grow up is found in obedience.

--Blessings by Laura Story [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd6J6Wgnv4M ]

“… Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…”

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