Milk or meat

January 12, 2015

I am ashamed of what you are about to read. If there are things in my past that I could change this would certainly be one of them. When I was a kid and probably even into my adulthood, telling the truth was not a strength for me. I lied. I mean I lied a lot. I lied to my parents much of my childhood. I’m not proud of it. I wish it had been different but it wasn’t. I was a serious liar. I lied to my friends, I lied to those who cared about me, and maybe (not sure) most damaging…, I lied to myself. Lying is a destructive character flaw. Even calling it a “character flaw” is an attempt to lessen the blow. I mean, it’s way more than that isn’t it?

Sooooooo… what I am about to say is not an attempt to excuse myself or lessen the seriousness of my behavior. I have certainly asked God to forgive me and I have repented of my sin. My question to you is this: Are we Christians collectively a bunch of liars? No doubt some would say so. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 certainly indicates that if we in the faith say certain things are true that are not… then we are indeed liars!

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.

Of course, it’s simple to tell if we are lying about the resurrection. I mean, the “if” of the resurrection might be in dispute but if we say there is a resurrection and we know there is not, I believe that fits the classic definition of a lie, right? But there are other issues that are not nearly this… clear. Hold that thought.

There were many reasons why I came to the faith in my teen years.

  1. It was in the late 60’s and there was a cultural ethos amongst young people that called them to radical positions. Becoming a Christian was somewhat radical, at least in comparison to where many of my drug and sex experimenting peers were.
  2. Going to a youth group meeting on a regular basis found me in the presence of those of the opposite sex with whom I was… shall I say… quite interested.
  3. I grew up in a culture where the reality of God and Jesus were rarely questioned.
  4. I was attracted to a God and a Jesus who loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me. I had never heard that before in a way that I understood.

No doubt there are other reasons. But my point is, in many ways I was not told the truth about Christianity. I heard about the loving Jesus, the flannel-graph Jesus, the sacrificial Jesus. But in the context of wanting to “sell me” on the benefits of the faith certain aspects were “overlooked.”

What you may ask? Well things like:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Matthew 8: 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

See what I mean? We don’t tell people from the beginning that Christianity calls for sacrifice, servant hood, slavery and maybe even death. We only share the fun, positive aspects. We/I lie. And here’s the tragedy of it all; we/I have watered the faith down so much that even “we” don’t believe it anymore! We/I have little clue as to the sacrifice, slavery and death part of the faith. We have no idea what it means to “take up our cross.” In today’s vernacular regarding the Christian faith: “It’s all good.”

I guess in the classic sense of lying we really aren’t. Why? Because we actually believe what we say. We really do think “it’s all good.” Somewhere in the past The Church (at least in our country) took a wrong turn and we have not found our way back. I don’t think we ever will. In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks through John to 7 different churches. He tells them the things they are doing well and the things they are not doing well. He says this to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2: Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

You get that? Their “love” was Jesus and they gave that up. Last week I encouraged you to read through the Gospels to see who this Jesus really is. If you do, you will not find a Jesus limited to gentleness, kindness and stuck on a flannel-graph board. You will find a radical, suffering, dying savior who calls us to follow in His footsteps. There is no way around that if we are true believers.

In regard to the lying thing. I know that we need to speak to others in age appropriate language. So telling new believers about the complexities, difficulties and hardships of faith may not be the best place to start. (I’m actually not sure about that.) But ultimately that isn’t the problem. The problem is that we have bought into the “it’s all good” mentality of Christian faith and we have never progressed from there. Hebrews 5:13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. I suspect WAY too many of us are addicted to spiritual milk.


7 thoughts on “Milk or meat

  1. Bill, I resonate with your message about telling the TRUTH about following Jesus. We produce false followers for Christ if we speak only of the glory of knowing Jesus (and His resurrection life) and fail to speak of sharing in His sufferings. I think, if the call to “surrender to” and follow Christ doesn’t also — up front — mention that following Christ also means that “in this world you will have trouble, but fear not for [He] has overcome the world,” then we are preaching a false gospel … a half-truth … and we foster immaturity of faith in our churches, and even the pre-mature death of faith in some. Love ya, bro. Keep on keeping on. ~ Lowell

  2. Amen to this message, Bill. Your Sunday messages to the church are full of meat, just as we need to hear, not milk. Keep reminding us, even though not all will listen. Pat

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Excellent, Bill.

    Christopher Fay
    Executive Director
    303 S. Maple Avenue
    Falls Church, VA 22046
    (703) 237-2035 x 118

    Homestretch has earned many honors including the Governor’s Best Housing Program in Virginia Award, the Blue Diamond Award from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding NonProfit, and awards from Leadership Fairfax, Volunteer Fairfax, and the Washington Post; and Homestretch has been selected three times for inclusion in the Catalogue for Philanthropy. Homestretch is a member of the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign.

  4. Great topic today and thanks for your honesty. Yes it is true folks; Your Pastor was young once. I knew him 41 years ago and was struck by his purity. I was 29 and on my third marriage and no one had ever explained Christ to me. The problem is if you come to Christ to make things better you may fall away when hardships strike. My life after becoming a follower of Christ at age 50 is immeasurably better and it is much harder as well. Go with God!

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