Going through our Bible study last night of the book of Hebrews, my husband and I were studying from the end of chapter 5 through the controversial portion of Hebrews 6….you know the: it’s impossible for those who have once been enlightened to restore them again to repentance if they’ve fallen away portion. Apparently, that’s a pretty controversial passage, but great news! I’m not writing about the controversy!!!! But I do want to share something that was on my mind by the time our study was over.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” – Hebrews 5:12-6:1a
Going through our study, I was struck by how important growth is in our Christian walk. I mean, this isn’t always an area you hear taught about in churches these days. Most times, you hear messages about “the blessings of Abraham”, what God is ready to do for you, it’s your season, pursuing your destiny and purpose, and occasionally repenting from sin. But you don’t often hear a lot about maturing or growing in your Christian walk so that you can endure to the end. And personally, I thank God that over the past years, I have been growing more and more in my walk. I was beginning that growth before I entered into a relationship with my husband, but by walking more and more with him, my Christian walk has matured even more. Not surprising, our marriage has also matured as a result of our growing maturity in Christ.
Thinking about these things, I’m struck by how important maintenance and maturity are in the Christian life. So many people have an initial confession of faith in Christ, but years later, they are still shallow. They haven’t grown. They continue to struggle with the same things they initially struggled with. They don’t know any more than what they’ve been told directly by a preacher. They haven’t grown in the means of grace. Most don’t even know what the means of grace are, and may have to google it because I mention it here. Many don’t feel secure in their salvation and feel a need to rededicate their lives to God almost weekly at the altar (I did that for many years). Many don’t even have an idea of what justification or sanctification really is. Many don’t even know basic church history. Many are comfortable with clichés or rhyming phrases to encourage them through the week. Many don’t truly devote themselves to God on a daily basis. Many don’t have a prayer life. Many don’t read Scripture. Many know very little outside of the fact that “Jesus loves me, this I know.” And the scariest part is that many are comfortable being shallow Christians. And because they are that shallow, they are constantly tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) and have pretty much no discernment to properly determine what is actually of God and what is not.
Now, I’m sure that some people could get upset at me for making that statement, but let me consider it in a different way that could be more understandable. Almost two years ago, I made a public vow to be committed to my husband in marriage. Like a lot of marriages, we had plenty of adjustments to make initially, and being pregnant soon after only complicated things further. But, I have grown since that first day. However, what if I chose to be a shallow wife? What if I was content with our wedding day and the honeymoon, and I didn’t grow from there? Let me tell you what I would look like.
First, I would have never adjusted to our current financial situation. I would still be strolling in the most expensive supermarket looking for fresh spinach leaves to make omelets on Saturday morning and buying $12 steaks and beef ribs, just cause I was in the mood for it. I would still be trying to surprise my husband with random things because I like surprises, even though I know he absolutely hates surprises. We would still be having miscommunication problems multiple times a week. I would still feel like he’s mad at me whenever he’s quiet, and I would be internalizing that all the time too. I would always expect that he is constantly loving, doting, and attentive to me ALL the time, and I would take it personally whenever he stops. I would be content not knowing anything else about him, other than the fact that he married me and provides for me. I would not show any interest in anything he is actually interested in, but I would be perfectly okay if I never met any of his needs as long as he met mine. I would always want the “cloud nine…I’m so in love” feeling, and I would think that our marriage is in shambles if that feeling is gone. I would be comparing our marriage to every other marriage that I see, and I would be filling out all of those magazine quizzes that test our compatibility all the time, getting extremely concerned whenever we failed one of those quizzes. Basically, I would be extremely insecure, clingy, prone to excessive mood swings, selfish, self-centered, and an unstable wife with lots of internal conflicts and problems all the time.
Now, that gave me a good laugh just writing that all down just because I know how frustrated my husband would be…LOL! And I’m sure he’ll comment on this blog now. But real talk, I would be a sucky wife. I’d be so shallow and frustrating to my husband. Our marriage would be a pure shame!
Likewise, is it possible that this could be said of our relationship with Christ? Are we sucky Christians? Are we extremely insecure in our Christian walk? Are we selfish and self-centered, always demanding that Christ sacrifices more and more for us (you know, because the sacrifice of His life is not nearly enough to meet all of our needs)? Are we unstable Christians? Are we literally swept up in every new doctrine and teaching that comes are way? If we aren’t seriously hype for Jesus after every church service, do we automatically feel like something is wrong with our church or our relationship with Christ? Is our Christian walk filled with our emotions constantly ebbing and flowing, or are we actually grounded on and in something?
Like marriage, our relationship with God takes growth, maturity, and maintenance. The first day you believed is great, but it is not enough if you are still living after that first day. If you aren’t diligent to “work out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12), how will you endure to the end? How will you grow in discernment? How will you grow in your relationship with Christ? How long will it be before you actually become useful to the church, the body of Christ? And that’s a good question! How long will it be before you actually become useful to Christ, or are you content with just using Him?
Even when we were dating, I always told my female friends that if my vertical relationship with God wasn’t right, I could not expect my horizontal relationship with my man to be right. The horizontal relationship only reflected the vertical. I’m thankful today that I haven’t forgotten that. I don’t take my husband or our marriage for granted. I work hard at our relationship, and I try to be a help to him at all times. Likewise, I continue to strive and diligently work at my relationship with God. I don’t take it for granted, and though I may miss the mark sometimes, I try to always quickly recover. I want to be useful to Him. And my prayer is that all professing Christians strive to deepen their relationship with Christ and become useful to Him and the body for His glory.