Have you ever tried feeding someone else’s baby?
In my first year of college I worked at a busy daycare. On any given day, I’d be in charge of four or five small humans who were still struggling with the idea that food was supposed to go inside their mouths. Some insisted on spitting it out or even vomiting; others seemed to see the approaching spoon as some alien object that under no circumstances could be allowed to pass their lips. (One would think that a connoisseur of toenails and carpet fibers would be less opposed to things like pureed pears.) Occasionally a baby would be adventurous and try wielding the spoon himself, only to smear mashed peas down the back of his ear. In short, it’s amazing how much effort and food go into feeding a baby, considering a good portion of it ends up on the floor.
In the last article, we talked about cheerfully getting involved in people’s problems. But what about people who are constantly generating more problems? How do I stay patient with them? They can’t seem to figure out that the very sin they’re allowing into their lives is directly responsible for their problems!
- “Yeah, I couldn’t come to church Sunday because I had to fix my mower, and now something else has broken on it. I just can’t catch a break! Doesn’t God know I need a mower?”
- “I figured that if I got pregnant, my boyfriend would stop running around and grow up. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
- “I tried reading my Bible but I couldn’t keep up with it. It just wasn’t making sense. But someone gave me this devotional thing called Watchtower and I really liked it.”
There’s a huge temptation to slap a label on them and walk away. “They don’t listen in church. You can’t keep someone from making stupid decisions. They didn’t really get saved.” But lack of spiritual discernment stems from just one thing: spiritual starvation. Until a child of God can feed from His table, she’s going to chew on whatever she can reach, even if it’s toxic. The pastor does a lot of baby-feeding himself, but it is also the responsibility of God’s people to help teach the younger Christians, both directly and by example (Titus 2).
Never let a person starve just because he can’t figure out where the kitchen is.
Jesus had a handful of friends close enough to Him to eat His own cooking; many of us have been blessed with years spent near Him too. But there were multitudes of people who’d been near enough to hear Him, to touch Him, to believe on Him… but did not have the personal relationship with Him that the disciples did. Those were the lambs and sheep that still needed fed. This world is full of lost people who need to be saved, and I need to be a soul-winner, but I also can’t just leave a baby Christian to die on a spiritual battlefield when she can’t even feed herself from His Word yet.
The apostle Peter had already been fully assured of Jesus’s resurrection, but in John 21 going back to his old familiar way of life – “I go a fishing” – was a whole lot easier than striking out on this uncertain new path of faith. He did love Jesus deeply, but still loved himself more. And when Jesus keeps asking him, “Lovest thou Me?”, he begins to realize his own pride. It takes a lot of courage – and humility – to accept the ultimate instruction and proof of love for Jesus: “Feed My sheep.”
- “Feed My lambs.” Spoon-feeding is a difficult task for impatient folks like Peter. It’s messy and tedious, especially considering how much goes untasted. What a baby Christian does digest often has to be insanely simplified before he “gets” it. But Jesus is saying, “If you love Me, teach My children to eat.”
- “Feed My sheep.” The good thing is, with enough spoon-feeding a growing Christian begins to learn to bring the spoon to her own lips. Her aim starts improving when she hears things she needs to apply. We can work together on a simple daily Bible reading plan, or memorizing verses, or starting a prayer journal. And if I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten to eat because I’ve let myself get too busy with other things, being accountable to her reminds me to fix myself a plate of spiritual nourishment too.
- “Feed My sheep [some more!].” Remember in grade school when your mom finally said, “I’m not making breakfast anymore; you can pour your own cereal”? Suddenly you graduated to bigger and bolder things. You experimented with cereal add-ons like sugar, raisins, chocolate chips, even orange juice (yeah, that didn’t go well for me either). This is the “age” where a child of God goes to the Bible to study it, not just taste it. He is able to handle some meat now, can even begin to help spoon-feed others himself. He will never stop growing or learning, but now he is eating directly from the Master’s table.
It’s easy to help disciple Christians who have already matured a little, but only by learning the patience and compassion of Jesus Himself can I learn to spoon-feed the most undernourished, the baby Christian who can’t seem to get past “Go”. Never let a person starve just because he can’t figure out where the kitchen is. I am no spiritual giant, but I can hold a spoon.
If you are reading this and you’re struggling to feed yourself spiritually, head for square one. Don’t miss a single church service. Ask your pastor and his wife questions about why they believe what they do, or what Scriptures would be easiest for you to start with, or how to walk with God. Spend time with God every day, and check in throughout the day. You have been given the gift of direct access to Almighty God. Don’t blow it off for the snooze button or the “next video” button.
If we have reached the point of feeding ourselves, let’s take on the responsibility of helping to feed others. You don’t need to be a seminary graduate to help someone learn a verse or give someone a ride to church. True love for Jesus always carries a spoon.