“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2, ESV)
These days there are an abundance of alternatives to a mother’s milk. There were no baby bottles, no Similac or other “formulas”. When an infant was hungry, there was only one thing that satisfied.
As a two-time father, I never really took the time, or made the effort, to dig into this verse and the ones that follow it. I never looked deeper than the surface. I figured, “I’ve got this! Babies want milk. Duh! Yada yada yada.” I really did that with a lot of the Bible. Don’t we all?
Babies aren’t that difficult to figure out. They cry when they want something. They cry when they need a clean diaper. They cry when they’re tired. They cry when they are uncomfortable, in pain, sick or just want attention. And they cry when they are hungry. It’s not always obvious at the time what they want, but there is a short list of possibilities. And one thing is certain, when babies are hungry nothing in this world matters beyond their mothers’ milk.
I find that there are four main reasons why we don’t crave the Word as babies “long for the pure spiritual milk.”
We don’t crave the Word because we don’t understand it. If this is the case, we now have access to many easy-to-understand Bible versions that we can read for free with a Bible app on our phones. And I’m sure that most Christian churches would be happy to give a Bible to someone who asks. There is also an abundance of Bible study helps that we can read online for free! We have unprecedented access to resources that will help us understand what we read.
We don’t desire the Word because we feel guilty, and reading the Word makes us feel more guilty. This is ironic because the solution for our guilt is found within those pages. The Bible contains the only solution, the Gospel Jesus’ sacrificial and atoning death and resurrection, that can remove not only the guilt, but also the guilty feelings.
We don’t long for the Word because we think we know it already. We think that because we read it once back in ’06 we have got it all down. We have had our fill. But I can assure you that there is more to the scriptures than any of us can digest in this lifetime—or a thousand lifetimes!
Or we don’t yearn for the Word because we are Christian by confession only. Jesus is Lord, just not of our lives. We are more interested in our own interests than in His interests. The irony is, if we concern ourselves more with His interests, we will find that our interests take care of themselves.
Babies grow. But they will not grow properly if they don’t receive the nutrition they need. The last part of 1 Peter 2:2 is the clause, “…that by it (pure spiritual milk) you may grow up into salvation” (Parenthetical mine).
What does he mean? “Grow up into salvation”? I thought I just needed the ask Jesus into my heart!?!
Just as a newborn baby grows up into an adult, those of us who have “asked Jesus into our hearts” must grow up into salvation. Growth as a Christian is requisite. It’s not optional. Salvation is not like waterproof sun screen; “just wipe it on once and you’re good.”
Okay, so what if we don’t crave the Word? What if the Bible isn’t as desirous to us as mother’s milk to an infant? What if we don’t have that hunger?
I’d like to suggest that perhaps we don’t simply recognize the hunger because we are constantly snacking on other things?
Sometimes I eat a lot of junk food. Umm…frequently I eat a lot of junk food. Mom’s admonitions that I will spoil my appetite go unnoticed as I polish off some more cookie dough, or chocolate, or ice cream. I crave something, but I mistake my cravings for a good meal as if they were just for something sweet.
There it is! Did you see it? I have substituted what I really need for something that tastes good but never satisfies! We do the exact same thing when we binge watch Netflix, pour ourselves into our work, or obsess about one thing or another. We are searching for satisfaction, searching for the missing piece of the puzzle. But we fail to realize that we aren’t even getting close!
If we have never had a proper meal, we will never realize that we are filling up that empty spot inside of us with more emptiness.
Father, as we read Your Word fill us to overflowing. Help us to find in You and Your Word that for which we have longed. Help us to search for answers to our needs first in You and Your Word. Give us a desire for“pure spiritual milk,” that we may “grow up into salvation.” Amen.
These are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!