06 Apr Regressing Instead of Progressing
I am so thankful to say I have a baby boy growing inside of me right now. His name is Thomas, and we are so excited to meet him in the next month or so. As the weeks wind down, I’m well aware of how God made my body to change and grow to create everything he needs—including milk. It is really a miraculous thing if you think about it, and it reminds me of how God offered Himself as a consumable sacrifice so that we could be made whole and find life. Mothers making milk for their babies is His idea.
Why then would the writer of Hebrews rebuke the body of believers for “needing milk, not solid food?” There is nothing wrong with babies needing milk; personally, I’m very thankful that my baby won’t eat steak for a long time as I can neither cook nor afford steak easily. Thomas will come into the world craving milk much like the Scriptures teach us to crave God’s Word: “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. (1 Peter 2:2).
The issue is that the Hebrew audience should no longer be filling themselves with milk alone. Babies are weaned off milk and move to solid food over time, and do not return to an all-milk diet. It would be unhealthy for a first grader to only have milk for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. His body and needs have matured past that. But for a while, the milk was exactly what he needed and sustained him while he matured. The milk was essential for his growth and maturity.
“A lack of obedience has brought them back to a place of needing milk, when in fact they could be feasting on so much more.”
Due to spiritual dullness and hardness of heart, the Hebrew church is not responding to the milk that has been given in order to continue to grow and mature. They are regressing instead of progressing. When they should have been able to move on to a more solid and robust theological “diet”, they have come back to needing milk. Their dullness of hearing, or sluggishness, has kept them from becoming teachers and has caused them to remain as those who need to be taught the same things over and over again. A lack of obedience has brought them back to a place of needing milk, when in fact they could be feasting on so much more.
If Thomas were to reject the milk that was offered to him as nourishment, it would create a dire situation for him and our family. Honestly, I’m not even sure what would happen. I can almost guarantee it would end up in a long visit in the hospital, though. It is absolutely crucial to his development to take the milk that is given to him, receive its nourishment, and grow. We fully anticipate the day will come when we feed him his last bottle of milk and move on to a delicious diet of pureed carrots and Cheerio puffs.
“By craving the spiritual milk of God’s Word and responding in obedience, believers are able to mature into fully-grown teachers who can then turn around and make disciples of others.”
The writer of Hebrews wants his original audience, as well as us today, to press on in the faith with obedience and discernment. By craving the spiritual milk of God’s Word and responding in obedience, believers are able to mature into fully-grown teachers who can then turn around and make disciples of others. When we move from milk to meat we are able to help others mature in the same way someone helped us. It paints a beautiful picture of the Kingdom in which we all lend a hand in bringing one another closer to the throne of Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can press on with hope that we too might be able to move on to feast at the Lord’s table and enjoy the hearty meals that come with a deepening and growing faith.
-Anna Grace Willimon