My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”…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. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 1 Corinthians 1:11-12; 3:1-4
The milk/solid food metaphor was apparently popular in the early church. Paul used it. The writer of Hebrews used it. Peter used it. Some metaphors just work so well, they “catch on” and make the rounds, I suppose. It strikes me that this metaphor probably conjured up different images for the early church than it does for us today. When we think of babies drinking milk today, we may have images of bottles or sippy cups going through our minds. But in the days of the early church, I suspect the images were more of babies breast-feeding or perhaps of baby animals being fed by their mother. It was the very natural process of the mother digesting the solid food for the babies and then passing it on to them through her milk. Bottom line: being on a milk diet was the most helpless, immature form of existence.
Another interesting thing about this metaphor is that, when you or I read it in scripture, …
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19a
I can remember pretty vividly how I felt at the births of both my daughters. Those feelings will no doubt stay in my memory long after the details of the events have left me. In both cases, God made us wait until long after we thought we were ready. So when they came, I was overjoyed and thrilled and excited and so very ready to be a daddy! With Elizabeth, my older, I can still remember taking her little hand for the very first time in Seton Hospital in Austin. I remember thinking, “What a huge responsibility this will be…I can’t wait to get started!” I had an attitude of extreme gratitude for the opportunity God had given me and of sober responsibility for how much work nurturing this child would be.
What if we in the church had a similar attitude about new friendships? What if we saw each new friendship in our lives as a God-ordained friendship and treated it as if God had given us a responsibility for it? What if we prayed expectantly for God to “birth” such new friendships in our lives and then jumped into them with both feet when He answered that prayer? Oh, how that would change the church!
We in the evangelical world often talk about “just sharing the gospel” and leaving the results up to God. I do think that is an important perspective. There is our part in that process and there is God’s part, and it agree that it is important not to confuse the two. But I also think that “just sharing and leaving the results up to God” lets us off the hook of the Great Commission. Jesus did not say, “Therefore go …