It’s easy to criticize – That is why I’m doing it. I’m lazy. I got another promise keepers devotion that made me think about what is wrong with evangelicalism today. The devotion encourages Christians to make good choices so that the clay of our souls becomes a beautiful sculpture not a badly formed coffee mug. Then the Writer quotes Hebrews on the subject of milk-teaching versus the solid-food-teaching. “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (5:13-14, NIV)
Like I said, it is easy to criticize someone else’s attempt to express the things of God so I say all this with the full knowledge that I live in the proverbial glass house.
That being said, did you notice how the writer keeps the focus on YOU. You should strive to be a beautiful sculpture and YOU should strive to be mature not be fed milk like a little baby. The devotion serves up milk while criticizing those that live on it. Credit for this idea goes to the preacher (name long ago forgotten) who pointed out that Jesus did not die for us. He died so that the Father might be glorified. I believe he used John 12:27-28. Ever since I’ve been growing uncomfortable with this human centric Christianity.
Some day I would love to hear a sermon titled It Is Not About You. In that sermon the preacher first spend some time explaining the glory of God and not just the “isn’t God great because the universe is great” but isn’t God great because God is patient and kind etc. Then the preacher would explain that that we should worship God not because it will bring us heavenly reward or “abundant life” or even “good success”. We should worship God because it is right and good and whether we do or not makes no difference to God. We are not doing God any favours and if we are not in Heaven no one is going to miss us and if we insist on being in a religion where the universe and even God himself revolves around us then we are in the wrong religion.
Of course I’m not saying that we should evangelize that way. We can’t walk down the street handing out tracts that say “I’d love to tell you about Christ but you can’t handle it.” but at some point the message should get out.
What He Said: Training and Diligence Required
Discernment matters. I love the way Annie Dillard puts it: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” In the moment, we might not realize the importance of making moral distinctions, but over time, the choices we make based on these distinctions work on the clay of our souls. If we ignore the shape we are taking, we might end up looking like a badly formed coffee mug instead of a sculpture that would leave Michelangelo in awe, one that beautifully represents our Father in heaven.
We forget that, without use, discernment atrophies. The writer of Hebrews recognized this: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (5:13-14, NIV).
Distinguishing between good and evil is a mark of those who are spiritually developed. It does not happen automatically. It requires training and consistent diligence.