"Dear brothers, I have been talking to you as though you were still just babies in the Christian life who are not following the Lord but your own desires; I cannot talk to you as I would to healthy Christians who are filled with the Spirit. I have had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn't digest anything stronger. And even now you still have to be fed on milk. For you are still only baby Christians, controlled by your own desires, not God's." 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (TLB)
What is meant by "baby Christians"? What helps us to grow up in Christ?
During the apostle Paul's first visit to the Christians in Corinth, he was disappointed that they weren't growing in their faith. They were still spiritual babies. Their spiritual muscles weren't developed; they couldn't digest "meat"--or the deeper things of Christ. Instead, they were still crawling in their faith. The Corinthian Christians were still in spiritual kindergarten--only digesting the very basic truths and not going past that. Sound familiar?
When we celebrate a new physical birth, our attention is on the baby. We take photos and movies and exclaim all over social media how cute he is. As a baby grows, however, we're not consumed in taking photos every day of his life. If we were, the child would become used to all the attention--and even learn to expect it. He would become a spoiled, self-willed child.
Unfortunately, some Christians fall into this category. When Johnny first gave his life to Christ, all eyes were on him. People were excited that he'd made a commitment to follow God. The attention felt good. But unless Johnnie grows in his faith and moves away from self-centeredness, he'll become easily upset when he doesn't get his way, when others don't have time for him, or when he's left out.
Physical babies need to be cuddled. Spiritual babies need to be handled with kid gloves. Physical babies cry when they can't have what they want when they want it. Spiritual babies cause friction and hold grudges when people around them don't cave in to their whims and ideas. Babies are great at receiving, but they don't know how to give.
It's easy to see why the apostle Paul was discouraged when he visited Corinth, isn't it? He fully expected to find mature Christians--people excited about giving, sharing their faith, and living out the deeper truths of Scripture. Instead, he found baby Christians arguing, demanding their own way, and refusing to grow spiritually.
So, here's a 1st century lesson that applies to us today: It's time to grow up in Christ. Hebrews 6:1 gives us some can't-miss clarity about spiritual growth: "Let us stop going over the same old ground again and again, always teaching those first lessons about Christ. Let us go on instead to other things and become mature in our understanding, as strong Christians ought to be" (TLB).
Lord, I want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by my own desires. I want my relationship with You to grow deeper and my faith to grow stronger. Amen.