In the middle of Hebrews, the unknown writer expresses exasperation stunted growth of the believers he’s writing to. Instead of growing deeper in their faith, growing more like Christ, they are stagnant in the basics.
He tells them they should have moved past spiritual infancy and into spiritual maturity.
About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14 RSVCE
The believers were not able to understand the depth of the faith being explained to them because they hadn’t been able to move past the basics. They were stuck in a cycle of relying on the basics instead of moving to the next step.
Because while the basics are always foundational, essential to growth, we are supposed to continue to build upon the foundation.
Christians need to have a firm grasp of the basics, but we wouldn’t stay intellectual infants, we need to grow our faith.
Because moving past the basics helps us distinguish between good and evil.
When we don’t grow in the life and depth of what Christ accomplished for us, when we remain spiritual children, like children we are easily deceived. We are tossed around by false doctrine and are easy prey for the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
We should not become dull of hearing but should be eagerly deepening our understanding of the Word of God. This is not simply the task for those in ministry but is the work of all who believe.
As the writer says, the people of the church should have been teaching others, but instead, they were stuck being retaught the basics again and again and again.
I know the feeling of being stuck in a rut.
Of needing to be reminded of the core over and over and feeling like I am in an endless loop.
But in Jesus, we’re called to move out of that loop.
We’re called to grow in our faith, to build our house upon a firm foundation but to build, not to simply stand around the foundation, repairing it as time goes on. We are called to build something beautiful for the Lord on the foundation.
According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 RSVCE
God has given us a strong foundation to build upon.
We need to honor Christ’s work and live the lives He has called us to live.
The pressures of the world can often stunt us. Instead of trusting in God, we are caught up in temporal problems. The Bible makes it clear that we aren’t the neglect or ignore our bodies (they are the temple of the Holy Spirit) and that God greatly cares for our needs, but also reminds us that ultimately, it is God who provides and we need to rely on Him.
Just as they relied on the Lord’s provision of manna in the desert, we need to learn that He is our trustworthy source of provision. We need to move deeper and deeper into understanding the depths of the love that God displayed for us through Jesus.
But we need to go past our milk-level understanding.
We need to set spiritual goals. We need to implement the spiritual practices and trust that as we step out in obedience, He will provide for us, growing and helping us to build the life He created us to build.
It will take time, to wean off of milk-level learning and move to solid foods.
Like babies, we will probably need a combination of both. Relying primarily on milk with bits of solid food mixed in until slowly, that mix is more solid food than milk.
Take the steps. Start seeking deeper understanding, start relying on the work of the Lord.