November 26, 2018

Like a starving baby . . .

Only a few volumes on my bookshelf have been read more than once. The most notable is a classic by L. E. Maxwell called “Born Crucified.” The gist of it is that Christians are given new life and the old is gone. It can take a long time for our awareness to catch up with this reality, but I died when Jesus died . . .
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Maxwell affirms that this is true no matter how it seems. The issue is recognizing it and living accordingly. An analogy might be enlisting in the army. Whoever enlists is instantly a soldier — it just takes training and much effort to act like one.

The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) We say the process cannot be rushed when in reality, it is already completed. The problem is learning to act like what we are!

God’s Word offers much instruction for this. One of the major teaching is to put off all former behaviors, replacing them with godly attitudes and actions. For example:

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1–3)

When first saved, I was like a baby. I was (and still am) hungry for the Word of God that Peter calls “pure spiritual milk” and like physical food, I deeply desired to have it as often as possible. However, I’ve noticed that desire can come and go. It gets replaced by other stuff that might even present itself as sustenance but fail to satisfy that spiritual need.

For example, Christians can get caught up in listening to certain preachers, or going to conferences, or making their fellowship group a substitute for God’s Word. Instead of studying, we get lazy or bored or distracted and stop feeding on God’s Word, relying only on what other people discover. Very soon, spiritual growth becomes stunted and that appetite for more is replaced by complacency. Being a Christian loses its excitement.

Bible study is often called a spiritual discipline. It is not the source of God’s grace as much as the conduit for it, as are the other spiritual disciplines like prayer and worship. Without this discipline, I miss God speaking directly to me. Not only that, putting off junk like malice and hypocrisy is difficult because I don’t know how to replace them. The Word of God is the food that teaches me how to live like I am — a new child. It is the food that produces spiritual growth. It brings out the reality of what God has done in my life.

If anyone reading this has tasted the goodness of the Lord but is not hungry for His Word, start reading anyway. Begin in the New Testament with one of the gospels, perhaps John. Read it five times, then Romans a few times. Reading increases your appetite for it!

Lord Jesus, I’m so thankful that You left with us a record of Your life and interaction with humanity, but also declarations and instruction for all who have realized Your goodness and have been reborn to new life. May all of us be continually hungry for Your Word — it satisfies yet we cannot ever get enough!

No comments: