August 30, 2021
Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV)
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
I love the opening phrase of this text:
We have much to say about this,
I want to respond and say, Please say more!
Yesterday we talked about meat and milk and infants and mature saints in the Lord. And we talked about our penchant for protein shakes. I likened protein shakes to daily devotionals.
My Dad got on to me the other day saying, “John David, you can’t criticize people for reading daily devotions. The Daily Text is a daily devotion.” Thanks Dad. I don’t mean to criticize. Daily devotionals are good. Some of them are really good. Some are challenging. Others are comforting. Some are fluffy. Others are fiery. Some are milky. Others are meaty. They are what they are and they have a part to play in our discipleship. Let me bottom line this for you. Daily devotionals do not make mature Christians.
Many of you will remember the television commercial for the hamburger of Wendy’s restaurant chain years ago where the elderly lady peeled apart the buns from a competitor’s hamburger to find a very small meat patty at which she all but shouted, “Where’s the beef?!”
The question we must ask about our daily devotional materials and our daily devotional practices is this the same: “Where’s the beef?!” Daily devotionals can be a good and helpful “protein” supplement to our discipleship, but they can never be a substitute source for “the beef.”
So where is the beef? The beef are the four verities of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the fundamentals. Sticking with the analogy, let’s call them the four food groups:
Word. Spirit. Church. Kingdom.
Word of God. Spirit of God. Body of Christ. Kingdom of Heaven.
In fact, these four realities can be brought into two symbiotic (read, abiding) pairings: Word & Spirit. Church & Kingdom.
The Word without the Spirit is fundamentalism.
The Spirit without the Word is fanaticism.
The Church without the Kingdom is institutionalism.
The Kingdom without the Church is idealism.
And any of this without Jesus is mere formalism.
These are the basics. And we never get beyond the basics. There is the elementary approach to the basics (i.e. the first half of the gospel) where we receive them as “milk.” Then there is the mature approach to the basics (i.e. the second half of the gospel) where we receive them as “meat.” What begins with information in the first half of the gospel must transition to revelation in the second half. Information is knowledge. Revelation is knowing. We must get into this new kind of training approach with these essential pillars of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love the closing line of today’s text:
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Isn’t it fascinating how the name of that fateful tree at the center of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 is, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Word & Spirit. Church & Kingdom. Because we all have a lot of information about these things, we think we pretty much know what they are. Friends, these are profound mysteries and eternal verities. We are only scratching the surface. We must press on toward . . . who by constant use have trained themselves. . .
It brings me back around to that first line from today’s text:
We have so much to say about this. . .
See my invite in the P.S. today for a way forward.
I have learned a lot more than I really can say I know. And the fact that I think I know enough actually keeps me asleep to the reality that my knowledge about you is way ahead of my actually “knowing” you. I need to sit in more of your classes Jesus. I need the Spirit to become my direct teacher. And so I pray. . .
Jesus, I belong to you. You are my Lord and my God. I receive your life in exchange for my life, all of it, right now. I no longer live. You live in me. I have been crucified with Christ. I have been raised with Christ. The old has gone. The new is come. Now what? Come Holy Spirit and lead me into the supernatural human way of Jesus—on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
What is stirring in you after thirty days of this series on the second half of the Gospel? What are your questions? What has your attention? How is this shaping your intention?
AN INVITATION: As a way of bringing all of this second half of the gospel inspiration down to some practical application—the FarmTeam and I will be leading our Awakened Life Course coming up in October. It is a four week journey into Word and Spirit; Church and Kingdom. I’ll write you soon to say more, but please consider doing it this time. It is one of my favorite things to lead.
For the Awakening,