“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)
This past week I was thinking back on the first New Year’s sermon I preached after becoming pastor of Berean Baptist. A few weeks prior to that sermon we had a nursery presentation with many pictures of the children that were then in the nursery. I remember that Benjamin and Samuel Petro were there; Maggie Chamblee, Tate Jarrell, Alexander Brown…Now, those children are much older and hopefully they don’t require the same kind of care and attention that newborns and little toddlers require.
These children have grown physically and mentally and should they look or act like they still require nursery care, we would be alarmed and would not hesitate to get them to the doctor to find out what is wrong. We understand this principle very well when it comes to physical growth, but why don’t we understand it spiritually? According to the scriptures, Christians should experience continual spiritual growth. And yet we find the apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian church with near exasperation because he had to go over and over the same things time and time again. He said he could not feed them with the meat of the word because they were still like newborns requiring milk.
How do we tell when Christians in our time are not growing properly? Paul noticed something in the Corinthian church that tipped him off. There was a lot of strife and division in the church. There were little spats going on and there was a great deal of selfishness. He noticed the same in the Philippian church. In a congregation that otherwise seemed healthy, there were two ladies involved in a dispute. Their differences hurt the harmony of the church. The Philippian letter contains some wonderful doctrine, but it seems to have been prompted by Paul’s correction of these two ladies’ problem.
The same types of issues tell me as pastor that some are not growing as they should. At the risk of sounding self-serving, I don’t think the problem is with the lack of doctrinal teaching. I believe the meat is there and enough has been provided that everyone should be growing properly. However, the unwillingness to eat and drink what has been provided will not result in growth.
Thankfully, Berean is not like many Baptist churches of our day. I am somewhat preaching to the choir because this is not a major issue with us. But as we start this New Year we should evaluate last year’s spiritual growth. If you are not closer to the Lord now than you were at the beginning of last year, where should you place the blame? If others are growing and you are not…need I say more? If there is no spiritual growth, you should be as alarmed as if one of your children was seven or eight years old, and yet instead of putting them in classes with children their age each week, you had to put them in the nursery to be cared for.
Set your mark of spiritual growth this Sunday. Check it each month to see if you are growing. If you have not grown in spiritual stature, go the Great Physician and ask why!
Pastor V. Mark Smith