In the following scriptural passages, the writer is speaking to Christians who have been baptized for over 30 years (Tony Evans), chastising them over immaturity:
Hebrews 5: 10 – 12, [Speaking of Jesus] And was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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!
6:1 – 3, 11, Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, …. And God permitting, we will do so. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.
In the next passage, Paul is referring to Christians who had been baptized for five years (Tony Evans):
1Cor 3:1 & 2, Brothers, and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still 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.
Experiencing and Measuring Growth
When one becomes a Christian, he has just entered a new world order, a new environment. The expectation is different and higher. You are not expected to heal the sick, restore eyesight to the blind or walk-on-water in the early stages. The early stage, however, is where you learn to walk with God; learn his word and get in tune with the spirit – learning the fundamental truths of salvation.
This inaugural process of conversion, spiritual birth, new life, or salvation is designed to initiate a process of growth. Christians are expected to grow. You are expected to come as you are, but not stay as you are. There must be a stack difference between someone who has been a Christian for one year, and the ones who have been there for 5, 10, 20 years.
Your level of charity must increase. Your level of patience must grow. Your level of love has to rise – go beyond merely loving only your friends. Your standard of forgiveness needs to improve – you must learn to forgive the painful stabs that you receive – betrayal, abandonment – hypocrisy. Worship must climb the priority post – more than Sunday or Saturday mornings – more than once a day. Praying frequency must get higher with each passing period of time. But the highest level of Christianity is kingdom agency which we will see later.
Paralyzing environments for growth.
That expected growth to Christian agency could be impeded or stymied and sometimes aborted before maturation. The environment in which you nurture your heart will determine your Christian development. In the following parable, Jesus listed three conditions that could impede spiritual growth (Luke 8: 5-7):
A Sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed:
First, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. This refers to giving the devil access to your heart through bad influences such as friends or social environments.
Second, And some fell upon a rock and as soon as it sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. This refers to people who initially love the scriptures but spent little time studying it to nourish their spiritual life. Third, And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. Those are people who claim to accept Jesus as Lord but prioritize earthly pleasure or materialism over love for him. Many of us have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour for a good time but still underdeveloped because we expose our hearts to the above-mentioned conditions.
It’s time to grow up! It’s time to give up milk and consume steak. It is time to give up diapers and bibs and pull our Fruit-the-Looms, Hanes, our stalking, and Jeans. Paul believes that after five years a person should have become a mature Christian. There are those who have made no spiritual progress even though they have been attending church regularly for long stints of time. They praise and worship, participate in discussion but are still infants. I know people who can repeat everything their pastors says – but it has no impact in their personal life. They speak with no power because they do not know the God they speak of personally.
Maturing in the Christian walk
How do you know that you are not mature?
– We are infants if we do not know the principles of righteousness.
Heb. 5:13 & 14, 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. Some Christians still believe that right and wrong is relative – that each person determine morality for himself or herself – Hebrews is calling that baby talk – solid mature Christians can determine between right and wrong.
– A mature Christian should be able to bring not only himself or herself to grow in Christ, but also inspire and win others into the kingdom. That is what is deemed kingdom agency.
Heb 5: 12, 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.
If you only come to Christ for you, and no knowledge of God is being transferred, maybe, you need to be playing tickle me Elmo. If nobody benefits from your experience with God but you, your spiritual birth has been aborted. That is the way we assess whether we still in spiritual diapers.