How often have you heard someone say, “I’m just not being fed” as they left your church to join another? I have always thought that such a statement was a bit humorous. After observing my own children when they were young and receiving a refresher course in recent years with grandchildren, I have learned that youngsters learn to feed themselves pretty quickly. In fact, there seems to be an inherent drive for them to learn to feed themselves. This doesn’t always mean that they make wise choices, but they do want to ingest food. This leads me to some observations.
First, most children are motivated to feed themselves. I am not sure that this is completely connected to hunger. I think it has a lot with a desire to provide for their own basic needs without parental assistance. They want to learn how to do this for themselves. When a believer lacks this desire, what has gone wrong? Why have they assumed that it is someone else’s responsibility to spoon feed them? Where did they get this idea that they are not ultimately responsible for themselves?
Second, learning to feed oneself is messy. This is why we provide bibs and lots of wipes to clean up after children as they dive into their food with or without utensils. Parents accept that this is a messy process, providing assistance as needed, and standing ready to clean up afterward. Perhaps one reason that some believers don’t want to learn to feed themselves is that it can get messy. As we read the Scriptures, we often find things that raise more questions than answers. If you want a clear, unambiguous system, you might find this a bit messy and unsettling.
Third, children tend to be picky eaters and often rebel against what is placed before them. Parents work to provide a balance until a youngster realizes that pea and carrots really taste good as well as being good for you. Perhaps some believers are not willing to stay with it long enough to realize that we can find a balance in the Christian life as we deal with the more difficult, uncomfortable, and convicting parts of scripture.
Paul used this metaphor when he wrote to the church at Corinth: “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, NIV)
Perhaps those who feel they are “not being feed” in their present churches have become stunted in their growth. Perhaps they do not have the inherent desire to learn to feed themselves, have found it too messy, or are just too stubborn to accept a balanced diet. Let’s pray that they learn how to overcome this malady so they can eventually “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a, NIV)