I was convicted the other day by a Boundless article called “Don’t Be a Baby” by blogger Chelsey Munneke. She writes about how, for a while, she spent her morning devotional time with God reading her one-page devo and skimming through its accompanying scripture passages.
A few weeks into this habit, her pastor gave a timely sermon. Munneke explains:
He described to the congregation that only reading another’s interpretation of Scripture without reading Scripture itself is like a baby being spoon-fed, consuming food that is easy to eat and prepared by someone capable.
The Bible often uses the metaphor of milk versus solid food to explain the development of Christian faith. Milk stands for the beginning (elementary) teachings about Christ, while solid food stands for spiritual maturity (see Hebrews 6:1).
- Like 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 2:1-3
- Brothers, 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. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a
Christians are supposed to naturally progress from milk to solid food, like babies do. But many of us stop at milk and fail to go on to solid food.
How do we do this? We stop at the basics of Christianity and fail to challenge ourselves with the harder issues. We grow comfortable with “Jesus loves me,” and fail to investigate the complexity of God’s love for us — joy, grace, truth, wrath, justice, freedom.
How do we do this practically?
- We read devotional books (the easy, processed stuff) and don’t study scripture (the hard, cryptic stuff).
- We go to church once weekly, maybe Bible study group too, but we don’t do any reading or scripture study on our own.
- We hang out with our group of friends at church, but don’t reach out to other people, especially other generations.
- We go to our on-campus college fellowship group, but hardly to church.
- We talk Jesus with Christians, but not non-Christians.
…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. Hebrews 5:11b-14
I’m guilty of this. In my struggle to get back to consistent reading of the Bible and intentional, daily time with God, I’ve been reading John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s a really great book. I don’t think reading devotionals is a bad thing. It’s actually a great habit. But some days I’ll only read through the Piper book and never put my face in my Bible.
I realized: if all I need to read are explanations of scriptural truths rather than scripture itself, why would I need the Bible?
But I do. Of course I do. If I call myself a believer, I believe the Bible is the revealed Word of God to mankind. I believe that the truths in these pages are perfect, inerrant, and powerful, transcendent of time and culture. I believe that life is meaningless without Jesus, and that the God who gives us meaning has given me this Word.
It’s gotta be worth the read.
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.