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THE WORD: Growing by steps

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. 1 Corinthians 3: 1-4

Paul, in addressing the church at Corinth, was hard-hitting with these followers and readers with the aforementioned observation he made about them.

I read these first few sentences and immediately thought about my three children, more especially my almost 4-year-old daughter. She can eat just about anything. She will eat steak, chicken, sausage, bacon, hamburger, pizza french fries, even cooked sushi. She will eat most everything. But she didn’t start out that way.

Born with no teeth, no clue what “eating” was, no way of biting or really even swallowing solid food. She grew fast though and soon enough, like with most children, she could gum something, mash it around with her tongue, and swallow. Then eventually came teeth and she could chew and bite and from there she just kept growing.

It’s such a reminder to me of how we are all at different stages of our Christian walk. Some are in infancy and can only handle milk or liquid. Some are at the gumming stage-mashed potatoes, apple sauce, grits, oatmeal. Some of us are at a gnawing stage where we can grind a little-maybe eating something like a slice of tomato, or soggy cereal, or maybe even macaroni and cheese.

Some of us are eating solid food on our own, but we need it cut for us. We need small bites. And it can’t be tough like pork chops or steak, but maybe hamburger, spaghetti, or chicken. Then again some us can handle the steak and the raw vegetables when those too are cut into small pieces. Finally, we find those of us who can belly up to the buffet and eat everything in sight. Unassisted, solid, raw, well done, tough, soft, whatever it might be we can handle it.

In terms of Paul’s message, as he was “feeding” those early followers he was constantly assessing what stage they were at. It’s not a far stretch to think of our individual relationships with God through Christ. Like a caring and loving parent, God gives us what we need when we need it — and when we are ready for it.

Perhaps this is a reminder to us that if we want to move to solid food in our Christian life, we must first demonstrate we can handle the milk, handle the intermediate foods. God will give us what we need to grow and mature in our faith and in our walk. However, it’s up to us to learn how to handle what He gives us and show Him that we are ready to handle more.

BARRY VASSAR can be reached at fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com.