I am reading Hebrews as a personal devotional, and I have always found it to be challenging. Some of the opening issues are not key issues for most people today (e.g., is Jesus greater than the angels or is Jesus greater than Moses?). But as you go on, the book goes deeper and ends up being about why Jesus was and is so central.
One of the assertions the author makes is that his initial audience must guard against unbelief. Unbelief is why Jesus had to go to the cross in the first place. When we stop believing, we send him to the cross all over again. But even for those who believe, if we waver back and forth, we end up with a steady diet of spiritual milk instead of meat. And no adult can grow if they try to be nourished by milk but no solid food for any length of time.
So, the question comes down to what is spiritual meat? What truly nourishes us? For me, it is when we start addressing systemic injustice or grace. I believe this follows the lead of what was taught by the Prophets (epecially Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Micah) and Jesus (see the Beatitudes and the parables) about how we are to be in right relationship with God.
This injustice could be on a micro level (what common presupposing or tendency do I have that lead me into so much trouble?) or on a macro level (why is it that generation after generation continues to have this same problem?). These are the issues which separate us from one and other, and God has told us that he wants us to grow by allowing us to strengthen the bonds between us.
One challenge that remains is that the church, as a spiritual center of learning and growth, is like a “one room schoolhouse”. The spiritual maturity of folks varies wildly, and you cannot tell the depth of that maturity with age or even attendance patterns.
If you try giving babies meat, they will spit it out. And so it goes if you try to go too deep too fast with many folks. [Note: I am not just directing this at Parkway here, but what I have witnessed over the years in ministry.] Some people can get overwhelmed by the richness of some foods. They need it broken down for them.
Some of the mega churches out there have full blown “seeker services”. This is good. Even regular size churches need good starting points. And these services can be broken down into smaller portioned, readily accesible spiritual information and praise.
But what I also ponder is how we develop worship, classes, and fellowship for those who are ready to go beyond the milk and get to the meat of faith? For those who want to take on the deeper themes of the Bible and Jesus’ ministry? For those who want to know, like the author of Hebrews, why Jesus is so central to our complex lives and our world?
What do you think? What is the meat to you? Who has helped you ‘go deeper’ and gain greater sustenance? How can we live up to our full spiritual potential?
All the best, and I hope you have a good weekend.