In studying Hebrews for a number of lessons’ worth of articles, there is some pretty deep content in these chapters. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always understand it all right away. Sometimes, it has taken extra study to figure out what a passage is saying.
It sounds like the author of Hebrews was running into some issues with the recipients of this letter, though, rather than its content:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.
Hebrews 5:11 NIV
The fact is, learning, growing, and maturing take some work. There comes a time when we’ve covered the usual Sunday School and Vacation Bible School lessons, and we’re ready to learn something else: something deeper.
Having said that, one cannot necessarily measure exactly where a Christian “should be”, based on how long they have been following Jesus. Some people like to compare their children to height and weight charts, or read books about what their kids “should” be doing at a certain age. While there are a few tests to determine whether a child may need some extra help, many of these metrics probably do more harm than good, since each individual is a little different. In the same way, there are a lot of factors in Christian growth; however, regardless of the rate of growth, Christian maturity and discipleship should be developing in each of us.
How do we achieve that, though? Some will tell you (correctly) that we should be reading the Bible, talking with God in prayer, and spending time with others followers of Jesus. Those are great ways to grow in our walk with Jesus. However, if we aren’t trying to understand, we shouldn’t expect even these positive habits (sometimes called “Christian disciplines”, which help us become better disciples of Christ) to help us get to where we need to be. We can read the Bible without trying to learn from it. We can talk to God without listening. We can go to church without intending to let the worship, teaching, and fellowship change us. Or, we can cultivate a desire to understand more and more, and actually grow through all of these practices.
The author continues, putting this lack of maturity into perspective:
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Hebrews 5:12 NIV
I think that there are a lot of children who want to be teachers when they grow up, although sometimes they want to be an astronaut or a professional athlete the next week. Some of these children do grow up to be teachers (as a profession), but others grow up to be astronauts or professional athletes…or engineers or homemakers or all sorts of other roles.
However, no matter what role we may be in, we will probably have to teach someone else at one time or another. Maybe not on the first day, when we’re fresh out of school and need to learn a lot about the “real world” (whatever that is!), but once we’ve gotten good at something, there typically comes a point where we have to teach a new employee how to do things, show another person how to master a skill, or pass along what we know to someone else.
We might not formally call someone a teacher, or some other term like mentor, expert, wise person, or just someone who’s been there before. Still, an education and experience – whether from school or from life – isn’t meant to stop with those who get good at something. The legacy of an accomplished person is to pass those lessons on to someone else.
And, given Jesus’ commandment in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), I think that each of us are expected to make disciples and teach others. Maybe teaching doesn’t look the same for all of us: sometimes it’s helping someone one-on-one to make a decision; other times, it might be sharing a Bible story with a child, or testifying to God’s work in your life with a friend or neighbor and inviting them into the family of God.
So, let us make sure that we want to understand God’s instructions for living as He designed us to live; then study and practice diligently so that we can pass what we learn on to others, as well.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for November 14, 2021
- The Lookout, November 14, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.