From Pastor’s Desk
The season of the Church Year during summer is Pentecost. Pentecost is a season of growth. We have a summer sermon/study series to encourage and provide opportunity for Christian growth, Christian Education Sunday, VBS week, Summer Spiritual Growth Week, and more. I know the Season of Pentecost is about the growth of the Christian Church, but I wonder if it has really been a season of growth for you.
Where do we grow from here?
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity. – Hebrews 5:11-6:1
Do you understand the kind of growth that the words of this Bible passage are spurring us toward? This Bible passage from the Book of Hebrews does not seem to speak highly of the elementary truths of God’s Word, but there’s nothing wrong with elementary truths of God’s Word.
There is one God, only one God, and he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s an elementary truth. Every person who commits a sin will be condemned to hell. That’s an elementary truth. God sent his one and only Son into the world to carry the weight of the sins of the world on his back and to give his life in our place. He took the burden of your sins on his shoulders, so that you might be free from guilt and death. That’s an elementary truth. God adopts us into his family by Holy Baptism. That’s an elementary truth. God promises us an eternal future in heaven with him through faith alone in Jesus as Savior from sin. These are all elementary truths. There is nothing wrong with elementary truths. We build our faith on elementary truths. We teach our little children elementary truths. We have Christian schools and high schools because we want them to teach elementary truths. We review these elementary truths every Sunday morning when we come to worship. There is nothing wrong with the elementary truths of the Bible, but those who know only the elementary truths lack the knowledge, understanding, amturity to deal with big problems.
Little babies can handle milk and squished-up carrots, but they’re not too good with steak. Again, there is nothing wrong with the faith of a child. Jesus praised child-like faith. But what happens when we face adult-like problems? What happens when the answers to life’s challenges are somewhere underneath the elementary truths of the Word of God? – A family member or a close friend dies. You have depression that you just can’t seem to shake. You’re hiding an addiction and starting to realize you’re not hiding it very well. Your son is living with his girlfriend. Your son is living with his boyfriend. You like the idea of being connected to the church, but you really don’t think you want to be committed to the church. – Those are very real problems, and a lot of Christians face them. What happens too often is that when the pastor gives a solution to those problems, people get angry because they don’t hear what they want to hear. And pretty soon they blame the pastor or the church or the synod, and they don’t realize that what they’re hearing is exactly what the Word of God says. They just don’t know it, because they never looked. And too often the reason they never looked is nothing more than that they’re lazy.
So what does this mean for each of you practically?
– If you’re in Sunday school or receiving catechism instruction, this means learning your memory work so well that you will never forget it, even when you get old.
– If you’re in high school, this means already getting into a habit right now of spending a little time each day praying and reading your Bible. It means listening in church and being engaged in Bible class as a mature member of the congregation.
– If you’re in college or getting ready to leave for college, this means knowing about your campus ministry opportunities before you get there. It means transferring your church membership to a WELS congregation where you’re going to college. (That’s right. And parents of college students can join in the encouragement. There is no benefit and no point in maintaining church membership in a congregation where you no longer live and where you are not involved in any way. Take church membership seriously and take it with you, even if you know you’re only going to be there for a few years at most.) It means getting up before noon on Sunday and heading to the local church not just for worship, but for Bible class too. It means searching the Scriptures when your faith and the elementary truths of the Bible are challenged in the classroom.
– If you’re a mom or a dad, this means Bible stories at bedtime. It means prayers at mealtime. It means bringing your children to Sunday school while you go to Bible class every Sunday.
– If the kids are gone and you’re empty-nesters and you have more time on your hands than you had before, this means spending less time on the golf course and more time in the Scriptures. It means setting aside time for intensive Bible study, because you have the time to do that now. It also means being an example of setting the pace, of showing the other members of your family and your congregation that you will lead them to church and Bible class on Sunday morning.
God wants us to mature as Christians. Christ and the gospel is not something to be treated with complacency or self-centeredness, but with maturity and reverent respect. Growing up is hard. Whether you’re in 6th grade or 60, growing up is hard. It means re-thinking old attitudes, setting new priorities, making difficult changes, and doing things you’ve never done before.
Grow up in Jesus. Where do you grow from here?
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18