Today’s text: Jeremiah 50, Hebrews 6
Doctrine can be defined as the principle position or belief held by a body. It is important because it succinctly articulates and illuminates the essential and non-negotiable foundational precepts of our belief such as the deity of Christ, His death and resurrection, and salvation by grace. Learning about doctrine is not difficult. It involves simple mental exercise and repetition. I have heard it said that “Doctrine is of the mind but obedience is of the heart.” We can know what we believe and even why we believe it but until we obey, our immersion is only intellectual. Jesus’ teaching was controversial because he addressed the heart as well as the intellect. Consistent obedience can only be accomplished through the action of the heart. We need only use our minds to understand but our heart is required to truly obey.
In today’s text Paul is giving the call to, “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity.” The call is not to abandon or forsake the elementary teachings but rather to go beyond to spiritual maturity. The call is being made to those who have been content splashing and wading in the shallow water to stretch out and begin to swim.
Spiritual Infancy can be defined as a lack of growth after the new birth. It is not healthy, spiritually or physically, to not grow. I have been enjoying seeing my Grandchildren grow and have learned a little in the process. They work hard to learn to walk. I’ve kissed their little bruises and helped them get up so they can continue in the effort to grow. As soon as they master one skill they eagerly move on to learn another. We need to be like children, eager to learn, and continually growing in our understanding and skill.
The spiritual infant is concerned with self rather than service. The younger the baby the less they do. When Grandpa gets his hands on them for the first time they don’t do much of anything. They sleep whenever they want; they cry when they are hungry, they cry when they need to be changed and will seemingly move heaven and earth to force the world to conform to their schedule. When we strive to reach maturity we soon realize that it is no longer just about me. As our heart is given over we look for ways to serve our Savior and his church.
The spiritual infant is concerned with argument rather than action. Siblings are not typically born with the desire to share. Playtime can quickly turn into a battle when they perceive that someone is messing with their stuff. I have gotten myself into trouble by sitting in the wrong pew or singing a song that was usually sang by someone else. Infants cannot see the ‘big picture’. They defend territory that is not at risk and use up their time and energy fighting useless battles.
The spiritual infant looks to people rather than the Master. When the little ones are born, their mothers care for most of their needs. Their moms spend a great deal of time feeding, cuddling and nurturing these little bundles. So it should come as no surprise that they fall apart when they realize that mom has left the room. Who will feed me? Who will protect me? Who will make me feel secure? Try as I might to assure them, sometimes I just have to go looking for Mom to ease their concerns. Spiritual infants look to personal relationships until they realize what it means to have a relationship with their heavenly Father. Once they understand His faithfulness, compassion and provision they realize the significance of Christ’s words (Matthew 18:20) “… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”