Saturday, November 04, 2006

Of Milk and Meat

"We're gagging on the meat!" whimpered the middle-aged woman, complaining that the pastor's sermons were too substantial for her delicate digestion. Too many hard issues to grapple with, too many demands on her life. The statement wouldn't have struck me as odd except for that fact that her husband was an elder at the church and she'd been a believer for over 30 years!

"My soul hungers for deeper truths, the milk doesn't satisfy," complained my young friend the other day. She was disturbed by the new sermon series at our church, which has been based on the book, "No Perfect People Allowed." Her contention is that the sermons have emphasized the compassion and grace of Christ while ignoring His holiness and our responsibility to live righteous, obedient lives.
Weren't we making the Christian life too simple--and too easy--she wondered?

And I've wondered, too, over the years, about this matter of milk and meat.
Maybe it's because I was born and raised in Kansas--steak country--that I've always had a hankering for doctrines I could really chew on. For truths that were down right hard to swallow at times. I've always gravitated toward teachings and books that highlighted the holiness of God, His discipline, His refining fires,the privilege of suffering.
(I actually got down on my knees when I was at Bible college and asked the Lord to allow me to suffer for His sake. I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time, but I think it was a reflection of my desire to be completely abandoned to His will, come what may).

To be honest, grace made me nervous. In hindsight, I think I saw grace as grudging tolerance on God's part and unabashed presumption on ours. "Sloppy agape" I've heard it called. The concept of "underserved favor" didn't mesh with my understanding of Jesus' admonition to "be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." If you've read my recent blog about the Lord's dealing with my daughter Candyce ("His Kindness leads us to repentance"), it is obvious that I've been pretty much clueless about His grace.

But, praise be to God, my heart is beginning to understand.

I asked the Lord earlier this year to deliver me from the spirit of fear. In His mercy, He answered my prayer and that has altered my perception of almost everything, including His nature and character. Christ's mercy and grace have been "in my face"--I have laughed out loud over the realization of His unconditional love for me. After all these years, I've developed a taste for milk. My spiritual diet is much more balanced now.

C.S. Lewis once wrote: ""What you see and what you hear depends a good deal on where you are standing." I've been standing in a cave, close enough to the Lord to see His glory and greatness, too terrified to come out and "taste and see that the Lord is good." But He has called me out into His glorious light that I might dwell in His Presence, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus alone.

It still boggles my mind . . . but I can receive it. By His grace, my heart can enter where my mind still can't go . . .