I have a nearly 3 year old son. Right now, he is a very finicky eater. One day he will eat fish sticks, the next day he doesn’t want them. One day he will eat carrots, the next day they are just funny orange sticks to throw at the dog. I guess every child goes through phases like this. It is probably a rite of passage that parents go through with their kids. I hope to get my “I don’t like that/I’m not hungry” merit badge from some secret parental society in the mail any day now.
Josh’s selective thoughts about food are relatively new. When he was born, He ate the exact same thing multiple times a day for months, and never complained. Josh lived on a diet of milk (like all children) for several months. This diet helped nourish him and allow him to grow “big and strong.” After all, he was born at just over 3 pounds, and grew to nearly 20 on his mostly all liquid diet. It was only after Josh started trying other foods that he got selective. After all, once you have had a cupcake, why would you choose a carrot? After chocolate covered granola bars, a plain bowl of Cheerios does not look quite so appetizing.
While Josh picks and chooses his way through various food options each day, he has kept an appetite for milk, and has at least 3 cups of 2% every day. This is a nutritional staple for him that he should not wander away from if he wants to grow “big and strong.”
I was thinking about this today as I read 1 Peter 1:23-2:3 which say, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God. For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the Word that was preached to you. Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 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.”
In those verses, Peter is reminding all Christians that in Christ they have been “born again.” This new birth has hardwired them with an appetite for the imperishable Word of God. The passage indicates that living by the Word of God will help Christians grow up in their salvation. When we hear this, we all probably are nodding our heads in agreement on the theoretical level. Of course Christians are to live their lives according to what the “good book” tells them to do. As people who know Christ, we also know that we have received a new birth, with the gift of eternal life. The problem in understanding these verses for Christians is not in the rhetoric, but in the practice. If I have been born again with an appetite for God’s Word, then why do I not always want to read it?
I think this passage gives us an interesting insight into this issue in 1 Peter 2:2 when Peter commands Christians to “crave pure spiritual milk” (contextually we know “pure spiritual milk” is the Word of God.) This command gives us insight because it indicates that even though we are born again with a desire for God’s Word, we still have to do something to help keep our appetite for it up. If we had to do nothing, then the command would be meaningless. The fact that Peter commands us to “crave” the Word, indicates that it is possible for Christians to (at times) feel no appetite for it.
Why do we sometimes lack an appetite for the Word? When Christians first enter into a relationship with Christ, many times (like a newborn baby), they just suck up all the truth they can find. All the Bible stories are new. All the concepts are revolutionary. Because of this, new Christians devour the Word of God like Joshua drinking milk alone for the first months of his life. As time goes on, however, Christians begin to taste again from other “foods.” Worldly philosophies, entertainment outlets, and other things become the cupcakes of their spiritual and mental diet. Tasting too much of these things can sometimes spoil the innate appetite believers have for the Word of God. While it is not bad to eat a cupcake or a chocolate covered granola bar, you would not want to make those the staple of your diet. There is a deeper nutrition that your body is craving. When it comes to our spiritual lives, our bodies are craving the deeper nutrition of the Word of God.
If you are reading this today and God’s Word has become stale, stop for a moment and consider your new birth. Consider what Christ has done in your life, and remember that He has designed you with a certain spiritual nutrition that you need. Even if you don’t think you want to read the Word of God, know that it is the very milk your spiritual life needs to help it grow “big and strong.”
Most of us want to grow strong spiritually, but we are feeding ourselves a steady diet of “junk food” and wonder why the results are less than impressive. By faith read God’s Word regularly and see that craving return. Reading the Word helps whet the appetite for more of its nutrients. Taste and see that the Lord is good. His Word is a nutritional staple that we should not wander away from if we want to grow strong in the Lord.