Grow Up!

Baby bottles

1 Peter 2:2-3 “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.”

When Peter compares us to newborn babies , he is not criticizing our lack of spiritual maturity. The term is used that way other places in Scripture, but here he puts a positive spin on the idea. Nor is he opposing growth and maturity, as though we should remain spiritual infants forever. He specifically tells us that he wants us to grow up in our salvation. More about that in just a moment.

His one point of comparison between us and newborns is this: There is only one food appropriate for newborn babies (at least, before the development of infant formula). That is their mother’s milk. It is the only thing the baby wants. It is the only thing the baby’s body can handle. Variety may be the spice of life, but variety is no good when it comes to feeding infants. They need nothing but their mother’s milk.

In the same way we who are God’s newborns by faith need only one thing on which to feed– the pure, spiritual milk of the Word. It is the only thing our faith wants. It is the only thing our faith can handle. Any variety mixed in from human philosophy, false doctrine or theology, or human speculation threatens to make us sick or could even be fatal.

And in order for that spiritual milk to be truly nourishing for our souls, to truly grow us up in our salvation, it must contain God’s word of Gospel, his good news in Jesus Christ. A favorite used bookstore of mine has a large religious books section. There you will find a few shelves with Bibles, Bible commentaries, church history, and various world religions. But what fills row after row and shelf after shelf are books on “Christian living.” I won’t say that those books contain no useful information. Maybe you can find helpful hints for dealing with some issue in your life.

But without the gospel of God’s love for you in Jesus, such books cannot grow you up in your salvation. Without God’s promises detailing what he is doing for you, there is no food for your soul, no nourishment for your faith, no matter how helpful the words may be for solving problems. You don’t grow closer to God when he is telling you what to do. Your trust in him doesn’t become more secure when you are concentrating on how your life matches up with his commands. Your heart’s intent to do things his way, your willpower to avoid sin and pursue love, doesn’t come from doing what God demands.

God is drawing you closer, making you stronger, and driving faith deeper, when the words on which our faith is feeding are about the things he does for us. That good news is not a limited subject that fits into a few paragraphs or a chapter in a book. It spans all the love that God has had for you from electing you to be his own child even before he created the word; to directing the course of human history to prepare the way for Jesus; to Jesus’ whole life of love; to the events of his trial, cross, and empty tomb we know so well; to his running the word for us from heaven; to his promise to return to take us there.

It is expressed in his promise to forgive our sins, declare us not guilty of them, reconcile us to himself, come to us in word and sacrament, give us his Holy Spirit, and ultimately raise us from the dead. The Gospel of God’s love for you is a gem with many, many facets. There are far too few books whose expressed purpose is to help us mine the Bible’s riches in exploring each one.

This is the spiritual food our hearts need. Let’s crave and consume this pure spiritual milk, so that we can grow up in our salvation.

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