Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Elementary School (07/19/04)
TITLE: Reading, Writing, and...Theology?
By Clay Drysdale
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Elementary school is where it all begins, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Nothing you really think you know matters until you get to school and learn what the "real world" is all about.
I remember my first day of first grade. Barbara Roberts and I were sitting next to each other. For some long-forgotten reason I decided to push her. My indiscretion was within eyesight of "Miss" Janie (actually Mrs. Janie), and I was promptly told "we don't push people here". My lesson was learned and life in first grade went on. Ready for day two.
If only the rest of life were that simple. If I always learned my lesson the first time around, I’d be much better off. Often, however, I have to be taught the same principle over and over before it finally sinks in. Without trying too hard, I can think of several very good examples of where this has happened in my life.
Our Christian walk is very similar to our school years. We all start out as little children, only able to comprehend the most basic truths about God: He created us, then provided salvation from our sin by becoming a man in Christ Jesus. It is only through study and the accumulation of many of life's lessons do we grow in God and start to become what He wants us to be.
The problem is that many us never get past first or second grade in our spiritual lives. I know that I've spent many years spiritually repeating the same grades over and over. By now I should probably be many years ahead, but alas, I think I'm still in elementary school! Paul talks about this very problem in his letter to the church at Corinth. He writes, "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as 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 Cor. 3:1-2 NIV).
God obviously wants us to grow in Christ. However, the key to growing is to come humbly to Him as a child. When His disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in Heaven, Jesus used a nearby child as an example: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:1-2 NIV).
The innocence and fresh outlook of children is why the opening verse of this article rings true. God reveals His truths to those who are humble enough to set aside what they think they know and become like little children who are just beginning first grade. When you’re six- or seven-years-old, you’re open to instruction. You don't yet have the weight of a lifetime of worldly experiences jading your worldview. Children trust their parents and teachers because God made us that way out of necessity. As children, we could not survive if we didn’t have others to protect and instruct us.
Our spiritual lives are no different. If we don’t begin our Christian walk humbly as little children, it is impossible for us to grow into the Christians God wants us to be. We can’t start at the top. It doesn’t work in our earthly lives, whether it be school or work, and it doesn’t work in our spiritual lives.
As Peter tells us, “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” (1 Peter 2:2 NIV). We must continue to do this day by day. Then one glorious day we’ll graduate with honors and walk not across a stage to receive a diploma, but hand in hand with Jesus on streets of gold.