O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
1 Cor. 3:1-9
February 13, 2011
Fellow baptized saints and children of our heavenly Father, why won't he grow up? Caleb, my little baby boy has been fighting his mommy and daddy for over a month now. We were told that baby Caleb should begin eating solid foods on his six-month birthday. Well, the six-month birthday has come and gone, and Caleb wants nothing but milk. We have called the nurses and the pediatricians. We have tried everything they suggest. Day in and day out, we do our best to show him that solid food is tasty, or trick him to eat some of it, or use reverse psychology on him, but after all of this there is only one thing to say: Baby Caleb loves his milk. (pause) But mommy and daddy want baby Caleb to grow up. We do not want him to be a baby his whole life. He was not born to remain an infant.
In our epistle reading, we hear St. Paul's words to the Christian congregation in the city of Corinth. His words are not easy to stomach. He is disappointed with them because they are not growing up into the spirituality into which they were born in baptism. His exact words are, I cannot address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it, for you are still of the flesh. It seems Caleb isn't the only one who loves his milk. St. Paul addresses these Christians as infants in Christ. Spiritual babies. Those born again spiritually in the waters of Holy Baptism who never want to grow up. They are content with their milk, and see no reason to work at eating solid food. The milk will keep them alive, why should they seek to learn or grow?
St. Paul does not hesitate to address Christians in this way, and his words are also for you and me today. We should honestly ask ourselves, Am I trying to eat solid food, or am I content with spiritual milk? (pause)
I can speak for myself, since I graduated from seminary I have had a dramatic decrease in my spiritual diet. St. Paul's words certainly apply to me. I have been deceived into thinking that I have completed my learning. As if there were no more room to grow spiritually. The last time this happened to me was when I was confirmed. Don't need to spend any more time with God and His Word, I completed that. But isn't it so tempting for us to think this way. We are not really trying to be all that we can be, we just want to meet the bare minimum. We are not really interested in the eternal Creator of the universe who loves us more than we can imagine. We just want a check in that box so we can go on with our own earthly lives. I got the milk I need, who cares about all the spiritual things He wants to teach me?
Each of us falls victim to this type of thinking. We are content with our one spiritual meal of milk per week. And if anything else comes up on Sunday, we figure we'll get our milk next week. Do we even acknowledge our God and Savior every day? Do we spend time with the one who was crucified on a cross for us? Do we care about the one who left the perfection of heaven to be with us? God is doing His best to be close to us, yet we would like to keep Him at a distance.
Spiritually speaking - each of us are like Caleb. We only want milk and have no desire to grow up and eat solid food. However we have been fighting off the solid food for much more than a month. We are well past the six-month birthday of our baptism. Why won't we grow up?
St. Paul goes on to identify why the Christians in the city of Corinth are failing to develop. He says, You are still of the flesh. You are being merely human. His description of the Christians in Corinth seems to match what is happening in our society. We are always thinking about human things. Earthly things. We are focused on everything except growing into the eternity that God has prepared for us. We don't want God's eternity. We want what is happening right now.
God has baptized us into His eternal family. One that will never end. He wants us to grow up into this eternity He has won for us. To desire solid food and spiritual wisdom more than earthly food and popularity. We were not born to remain spiritual infants, and yet it seems we put our time into everything else.
Let us consider what we actually do for a moment. We invest our time, energy and money into all of the things that will not last. We invest very little into what will last forever. We are the worst investors imaginable. We would never treat our financial investments in this way and yet even our financial investments will not last. We are very mixed up.
We are like a child who spends all of their money on candy that will ruin their teeth, instead of saving up for a bicycle that will get them to their friend's house. We are like an adult who instead of getting up and going to work, spends every day of their life on the couch complaining about how boring life is, and how little money they have.
Brother and sisters in Christ, we do not treat our earthly lives this way why do we treat our spiritual lives this way? We do not put the bare minimum into our careers which will end. Why do we give God the bare minimum when we will be with Him forever?
In one of His parables Jesus said, The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Jesus is trying to teach us that all of our energy, time and resources should go into our spiritual growth. This is what Jesus is saying. This is what Christ calls Christians to do.
Do we believe we have become children of God in baptism? Let us live like it. Let us grow out of infancy together. Let us strap on the bib and have a meal. Let us free our schedules for God. Pencil Him into our day. Let us study the Word together. Let us explore our catechisms, that is the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Let us always hunger for more. Let us try new textures of food in our mouth. Let us gag on solid food now and then because we bit off more than we can chew. Let us desire to grow out of our infancy into the people God has baptized us to be.
The comforting news this morning comes from the end of St. Paul's address to the Corinthians. He explains that we may plant and water, but it is God who gives the growth. This means Caleb can eat all he wants, but he will not grow without God. Pastor can preach all he wants, but God gives the growth. Your God has promised that you will grow up in your salvation because of what Christ has done. For Jesus was born as a little baby too. He did not remain a baby in the manger, but grew up into a man. He lived His entire earthly life focused on spiritual things so that you could grow into eternity. He grew spiritually beyond what the world could handle, so that He would be crucified in your place. A perfectly spiritual man crucified for one who does not focus on spiritual things. Christ brings growth in you where nothing should grow. Christ is the seed that fell to the ground and died so that He could bring growth in you, God's field. You are forgiven for being idle in your spiritual life. Jesus forgives you for not desiring to grow. And now He promises to give you growth. Desire it. Pray that He would give it to you. Learn His Word. But remember this, God gives the growth.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have a baptism that you are continually washed in, even when you get covered in milk. You have a heavenly Father who will always forgive you, yet firmly guide you to grow up. You have a Savior who made Himself into food for your salvation, so that you will be strong and healthy in Him. God gives you the food to eat, and God makes you grow. Thanks be to God.
Well, I'm happy to say that little baby Caleb has begun eating solids. He even eats them three times a day. May each of us be so very blessed in our spiritual lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr