Spiritual growth, Spiritual maturity, and a heretic = What do these things have in common?
I suppose it depends on your honest perception. Honest meaning not necessarily the first thing out of your mouth, because many of us a trained to give certain answers immediately, but more like the second thought or third (or later) thought that comes up in your mind. The solid answer that comes to your mind as you real start to consider if we do faux-pas in throwing these things altogether at any given time. As you consider the question, and I hope you do, I’ll start off with a fun example.
My husband and I have run into some leaders here & there who simply find us “off”. Most of these don’t know how or what to call us at all, but few ever actually like us. Early in the year a pastor who was trying to thank us for something said to us, “There something about you two. You’re…” and as he searched for a sufficient wording and I joked, “Good Christian people?” to which the pastor replied “No. More like… uh…” and continued to search for adequate but not overly-blissful praise. This is something I haven’t stopped laughing about yet, and it was very early in the year when it happened.
More recently, I opened my mouth in defense of a Christian brethren who was being accused by a conference leader/speaker of descension and/or division, and since we (my husband & I) sided with our friends we were all accused of not enjoying the “spiritual meat” because “there’s plenty to go around“, to which I also replied something along the line of it wasn’t meat but baby food.
One might think there’s a big difference between actual meat and baby food… but then again..?
Also slightly after this last event, my husband was encouraged to write to the good-hearted leaders of this said conference, so that they could also know our opinion, after giving some time and hindsight to consider the full implications of it all. My dear husband also found himself getting accused (by such good-hearted leaders) of similar things “not appreciating the spiritual meat” “there’s plenty to go around” that very same “spiritual food” that both I and he called baby food or to be politer, a happy meal.
Can it be, that one would get in trouble for wanting to spiritual mature past baby food and kids meals and spiritual Cheerios stage? Can it be that one would get into trouble for knowing how to seek out, prepare, bless, share, and partake in our own healthy regular spiritual diet, and therefore not come starved enough to intake whatever is being given out? Instead we might actually be looking for quality ingredients to form a spiritual meal? Apparently if anyone could get in trouble of this type of thing, my husband & I will be the ones to do it.
I am not insulted by you telling me I am spiritual “fat” because I know how to feed myself prepare full healthy meals, and I am not spiritual anorexic or anemic. I am not insulted. Neither am I bullied by this. Nor can I be bullied into eating whatever is being served up, just because its there, and its what “everyone else” is doing.
There is this cool story in the Bible that you get to hear about once in a while and it’s found in the book of Daniel chapter 1. It talks about 4 friends who’s lives where spared when their country was invaded, but they were still taken away as slaves. (Good luck, bad luck.) From there, they got chosen to compete for positions of training and honor in this foreign kingdom, but in the midst of this preparation they were serving types of food that these 4 friends do not indulge in. Therefore they had to make a secret deal with their supervisor to only eat the foods which fit their diets.
In the end, they turned out to be healthier, smarter, and all around better off than all the other young proteges, and had much success in their new land, by the blessing of God.
(that’s the short form; it’s very suspenseful story)
I like to ask, Why didn’t they just indulge in the foods like so many others with them? Why did they abstain if God had brought them to this place of privilege, didn’t that in itself give them the right to enjoy? But I don’t ask to judge these 4 friends, but I ask to judge ourselves. I am a big believer in that if we don’t learn from history we will be doomed to repeated. We must see the patterns that have already been created, and learn from others mistakes and victories.
I think these 4 friends choose life while they were still alive. They choose to honor God with the “temple” they had left, their own bodies. but… What about the others? Maybe the other young candidates had previously been scared to death at being taken as slaves and watching their beloved city burn, and maybe they never recovered. Maybe something in them died, or lacked graditude toward God or just saw these circumstances as most favorable and so they “lived it up” while they could.
In my experience, the terrible thing about growing up, especially spiritually, is that when you learn how to make meals and share what you have, you sort of become pickier, in that you learn things taste better fresh and not prepackaged. This does apply to physical nutrient and cooking for your body’s own health, as much as spiritual nutrient and spiritual food. I love learning new recipes and meals and trying different foods, but I don’t go back to eating baby & toddler food unless I am ridiculously sick or in a gross-food-eating-contest.
In my physical and spiritual life, I still eat Cheerios, but I eat them with fruit on top and milk surrounding them and on an occasion, but not as a snack or meal staple. I’d be so hungry if I only ate Cheerios ever.
Recently, in this blog, we’ve discussed that there is a difference between hunger and craving. We absolutely have to know that there is a difference, and that we are not to mix up which is which. This part of growing up. We have to be able to discern what is healthy for our bodies and our own being, and therefore we must not take in just whatever is available, but only that which is beneficial and enjoyable (in a non-indulgent way) to our insides.
Our physical bodies are the perfect example of our spiritual health needs. Some people have food allergies. Some people LOVE pasta (Thank you God for pasta!). Some people like spicy. Some people can’t sleep because of caffeine, others aren’t affected by it, still others try to be health conscience about it. Listen, you must know what you need! You must disciple yourself to do what is best for your inner parts. And I hope I don’t really need to say this, but you do not need to be following trends, enjoying “quick fixes”, and going along with the latest greatest.
So have you been considering what do spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and a heretic have in common with one another? I hope very little, to be honest, but if you’re in our shoes (or many of the sandals of the saints), they might just be the measure of success!
If you’re growing up spiritual, you might get accused of the opposite, but the proof is in: “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes” (Proverbs 24:16)
Let’s keep going friends. There’s more adventure, insults, and joys to be found, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next!
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”