The kids and I took a trip to the states last month. We came back with the flu, one child at a time, until finally I caught it.
For the last few days, I’ve been in survival mode. Lee is already in survival mode because he is a week away from board exams. That means between us, lots of non-meal meals (like hot dogs, chorizo and egg burritos, macaroni and cheese from a box), more computer game time (http://www.coolmath-games.com/) and videos. For school, I’m giving extra reading time, more review, and skipping topics that need to be taught. I can do those next week. I am also deliberately avoiding walking by the bedrooms because they need serious supervision and intervention!
When I’m sick, I can see more clearly how much of their spiritual lives is driven by their parents. Going to church is part of our family culture. They read their Bibles if I remind them. They don’t think of things like memorizing unless there’s an external motivator. Should I be worried? Energized? Discouraged?
I want to think a bit about spiritual milk and meat.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; I Corinthians 3:1-3
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,[a] 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. I Peter 2:1-3
We think of these verses primarily as negative passages. Christians that should be mature are acting like baby Christians. That’s bad. But look again. The passage in I Peter isn’t negative at all, and the other passages are actually instructive for what is normative for young Christians, even as they instruct us what is NOT normative for mature Christians.
Our children are not only young Christians spiritually, but they are also children developmentally. That is, their spirituality is limited by their natural mental development. (A new adult believer is going to read the Bible differently than a new child believer.)
It’s encouraging to note that these spiritual babies in Corinth needed spoon feeding. I’m praying for my children learn to feed themselves, but I will not be discouraged or cowed by my perception that they should be much further than they are.
I’m going to give them good, simple truth in small amounts. I want to delight them with all that I love about the Bible. I want them to love the God of the Bible, for only then will they learn to really love the Bible.
Yep, kids can memorize long passages. They can sit still through long sermons, and if you want to read them John Owen, I’m sure some young children somewhere are going to be really excited about it. Mine aren’t there yet. In fact, I’m pretty amazed when I ask them to apply pretty straightforward passages, how wildly off base their answers are.
I do see them enjoying the Scripture they understand. I see what they are highlighting in their Bibles, and it’s not indiscriminate. When we talk about scriptures on specific topics that they’re wrestling with, they hold on to those scriptures better than the ones I think they need the most. (Maybe I need to consider that the Holy Spirit may be on a different playbook than I am, and maybe I need to be looking and asking for that playbook.)
Tonight I am praying that God will give me wisdom. That he will help me know how to feed the milk of God’s word to my babies so that they will delight in it. I’m praying that God will remind me to share what good things he is doing in my life and theirs. That they will grow to love him and his word.