Yum! Milk or Meat?
As a self-governing Kingdom community, our goal is maturity: to grow up into Christ’s likeness both individually and collectively—and this only occurs when we all participate and contribute into the shared-life mix, rather than being perennial children spoon-fed by a few. It’s a matter of milk or meat. Huh?
Consider the milk or meat analogy the writer to the Hebrews uses (Hebrews 5:12-14). People have come to me after I’ve taught and said things like, “That wasn’t just milk you shared … you really gave us meat today”. While I’m grateful for the encouragement, it is a complete misunderstanding of the analogy. And it’s an analogy that pinpoints a crucial issue.
Milk or Meat?
It implies that what I shared on that occasion was somehow more stimulating, or deeper in some way, than on other occasions; that is, “meat” is a gripping message for a “mature” audience while “milk” is more simplistic for “less mature” listeners.
However, in the analogy, milk is what we receive from another.
The writer to the Hebrews explained, “you need someone to teach you again … you have come to need milk … everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word” (vv. 12, 13). Maturity involves learning to hear God’s voice for ourselves; thus, meat is what we discover for ourselves.
Therefore, no matter how stimulating a message may seem, it is milk—and will always be milk—to those who receive the message. Yes, even the most mind-blowing, thought-stirring, heart-enlarging teaching from (insert: your favourite teacher) is still milk to you.
This is not to belittle teaching or sharing what God has revealed to us. This blog post is in itself a teaching. However, when we teach others, we can only ever serve milk, and our aim in teaching or sharing is to nourish others so that they can learn to obtain meat for themselves.
Again, this doesn’t mean we somehow outgrow receiving from others; new truths are often sown into our lives as a seed by others—or as milk in this analogy—no matter how long we’ve been following the Lord. Mature believers, as they remain teachable, recognise when they need milk.
The key issue here is this: too much of how “church” is often done keeps over-fed believers coming for a fifth helping; it keeps them immature and dependent on ear-tickling messages spoon-fed by leadership. Or is that bottle-fed?
However, in a true spiritual family, we serve each other milk—out of what is meat to us—so that everyone learns to receive meat for themselves through a dependence on the Holy Spirit and a love of the Scriptures.