A few days ago, I asked some friends on Facebook and Twitter what I should address on my blog and Ryan Head asked me to address the question that follows, and so I assured him I would try my best to do so! Ryan and his wife, Melissa, (congrats by the way) and a team minister to and disciple people in Togo, Africa. Join me in prayer for their work and that God will use them to be about His business of salvation in Togo. He commented,
Maybe something to the effect of the transition from the newness of Christian life, the honeymoon stage is past, and now I'm an "everyday" Christian.
I remember leaving in Hayley's car and driving to the airport in Pittsburgh, PA. the next morning we flew to Mexico where we spent the week AWAY from the world that was to come. We laid on the beach, took walks in the sand, took a horseback ride through the jungle, and did some scuba diving through a beautiful reef. But the next week, the next week we would pack up all of our belonging and move from Michigan to Memphis, TN. We would both begin school, Hayley at Southern College of Optometry, and I would go to Harding school of Theology. Sure, we were married during that honeymoon, but real married life hit us between the eyes when we landed in Memphis.
Perhaps it is that new job, or a new pet adoption, or really anything new... but there is a moment in which the newness (or escape of reality) wears off and we are faced with the everyday routine, the hum drum, the very real lifestyle of marriage, work, pet ownership, and yes...even the life of faith.
I believe the writer of Hebrews addresses Christians who came out of their family religion to follow Christ and had begun questioning it. In other words the honeymoon had ended and the reality of the Life of Christ had set in. the writer tells them a few things that we should keep in mind, but the crux of the matter is this:
Hebrews 5:11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
In Ryan's comment, I think he gives it away when he writes, "now that I'm an everyday Christian" I think that is simply it, we must be a Christian every day...
I don't function in my job the same way I did 10 years ago when I started as an apprentice in Campus Ministry. I have grown. I know my spouse so much more deeply know than I did in 2001 when we were on that trip to Mexico, and having children together and parenting has only made our marriage more meaningful. I have grown.
We are to grow and mature as believers. I am not the same follower of Jesus who was baptized in April of 1991. Jesus has called me to do some hard things. God has disciplined me and asked me to step some things up. I still struggle to allow the Holy Spirit control of my life. BUT - I have moved on from milk. Look at the list of things above and ask yourself what it means to be mature. Let me give you a few questions:
1. Do you actively teach God's word to others, or are you still trying to soak it in (and making excuses for not helping other people understand it like, "I don't know enough to teach others.")?
2. Have you been trained through life experience to recognized the difference between right and wrong (do people come to you for advice on hard decisions)?
3. Has your study of the faith moved past the basic teachings like: repenting from evil deeds and placing your faith in God, baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment?
4. Has your Christian walk become a disciplined walk, characterized by faith and patience as you wait for the inheritance that has been promised? (Heb. 6:12)
We could move on to Romans 12:1-2 and I could talk about how a living sacrifice differs from a one time burnt out sacrifice that some Christians seem to live - justifying their laziness or apathy with words like "I tried" or "I'm just so tired."
The Bible doesn't pull any punches, it tells us what we are in for - deny yourself and take of your cross DAILY." We are to GROW in the Lord, through the power of the Spirit, and die to ourselves every day. This is the only way we can be sustained, and it is the Lord himself that sustains us.
When the newness wears off, you are either growing and going deeper, or the relationship is falling apart...and that can be used in many arenas, but for now know that your faith is the topic at hand and I want you to be persistent in the Lord. Oh yeah... and this from Hebrews...
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.