A Voice in the
"And I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like men?" Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be infants, but in understanding be mature." (1Co3:1-3, 14:20)
For most of my adult life I've been a people-watcher. During college, if I had a break between classes, I would sometimes 'rest' by sitting in a commons area, watching students milling about, interacting with each other. In the past I have enjoyed pedaling around the parks on my bicycle, or maybe take a rest under the shade of a tree, watching people. Go to something like the Air Force's annual "aerospace days" (or whatever they are calling it that particular year), observing families. I've noticed that Air Force kids seem to behave better than most other (civilian) kids...at least, while as a family 'unit', the parents do a better job of keeping them 'in-line'.
But in recent years I am enjoying those bike rides to the park less and less. As humanity is becoming more SELF-actualized, SELF-aware, SELF-empowered, full of SELF-esteem, and feeling good about them-SELVES, they are also becoming more overtly SELF-ish and RUDE.
And... more and more... adults are behaving like children.
Over the recent Thanksgiving holiday I had occasion to see excerpts of the "Judge Judy" show. A couple of cases, in particular, caught my attention. In one, a lady's children had thrown eggs at a neighbor's apartment, doing damage. The mother's attitude was almost as though it was not -her- 'responsibility', because she was not aware (did not personally see it) of her children's activities. Her kids were running around loose, while she was still sleeping in, lazily getting up, having "-me- time". And her responses and retorts to the judge were very much like an adolescent teen sassing back to their parent, excusing themselves, passing the buck.
In another, the 'father' of a child mentioned in the case, appeared in court...looking for everything to be under the influence of drugs or liquor....so much so, that Judge Judy, first thing, asked him point blank, "are you presently under the influence?" His response was like the typical miscreants I used to know back in college during the "hippy" era, slurring the speech, laughing it off (IN COURT), thinking it was all extremely hilariously "funny". When the matter of his 'child' came up in passing in the case, the judge yelled at him (in utter disbelief), "YOU HAVE A CHILD????" (because he, himself, was behaving like one)
During the same holiday I took a walk from my house to the neighborhood WalMart to look for something I needed. While shopping, I happened to notice this little girl accidentally knock something off a rack, onto the floor. Now...when I was a child, I was taught that, if you knock something over or make it fall, you PICK IT UP and PUT IT BACK. But not this mother! Too busy having mother/daughter "sister/friendship" time. And as I watched, not only did the mother not teach her little girl to pick it up, eventually she was walking around, stepping on (trampling) the thing the girl had knocked down. I don't usually say things to people, but in this case I did; expressing to the mother my shock at what I was seeing. And instead of acknowledging and 'fixing' the problem, the mother crouched down next to the floor with her daughter, 'spitting' mad at me, like -she- was the two-year-old, throwing the tantrum, almost like a hissing cat; the mother telling me off, because "stuff happens" and to "mind my own business". (BTW, once the 'conversation' was over, I did notice out of the corner of my eye that the mother did pick up and replace onto the rack, the item she had been trampling, that her daughter had knocked off. But there was no 'teaching' of the daughter, the concept of 'responsibility' for one's actions and/or mistakes...nothing resembling "Oops! Let's put it back")
Not to mention the multitude of things today's society is known for, where parents pick fights with athletic coaches and referees, so much so, that special notices are passed out (TO PARENTS) to "BEHAVE" THEMSELVES when attending their child's function...etc.
Is it any wonder that today's youth is what it is! Nothing about "[training] up a child in the way he should go" (Pr22:6) Today's parents, themselves, are still 'children'! The children pick up on their parents' child-like behavior, knowing their parents will back-up their misbehaviors, such that if a stranger should exhort a misbehaving miscreant to shape up or ship out, the child will taunt the stranger that they better watch out, or their parents will 'sue' them; as the child continues to misbehave, with a snotty retort of... "Whatever!"
These are the very days prophesied: "And the people shall be oppressed, man against man, every man by his neighbor. The youth will be insolent against the elder, and the dishonorable against the honorable... As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them..." (Is3:5,12)
The apostle writes, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put an end to childish things." (1Co13:11)
What we've spoken of thus far is in consideration of this earthly life. Children -are- "children". They are known for pushing the limits: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." (Pr22:15) Parents, for the most part (generically, societally speaking) do not discipline and train up their children. The sitcoms, children's programs and cartoons teach children that dad is a 'bumbling fool', that he is doing "the best he can", but 'we know' (implied) he's just not up-to-the-task. And fathers disobey the exhortation to, "..nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord." (Eph6:4b)
What happens when children grow up to be children? That childish "understanding" and "thought" process (1Co13:11) never develops. It never matures. It never gets past the stage of, like the songs taught them... "gimme, gimme, gimme...gimme that thing" where they are doing it "my way". They still retain that two-year-old (tantrum-aged) mentality of, "I can do it ALL BY MYSELF". While it is great to give encouragement to a toddler when they reach the point that they have learned to tie their own shoes; eventually they need to GROW UP. Growing up -into- a 'child' gives us a world where Americans no longer know who George Washington was, they don't know how to change their own tires when they get a flat, and recently it was projected, the "demise of the stick shift"...and they now have self-shifting bicycles which the people of the testimonials 'like', because "you don't have to -THINK- about anything"...just get on and ride. (Please understand these last things IN CONTEXT. We are not decrying technology...but rather, the immature mindset that so lovingly, tenaciously, embraces/grasps it, at the expense of mature/adult 'common sense'.)
So, when we have a society full of (adult) 'children', who cannot think past the shoe-tying stage, what happens to their abilities to -UNDERSTAND- God's Word? They have not "put an end to childish things". That's what our opening passage addresses. We have a generation that is only capable of the "milk" (and spoon-fed pablum) of Truth. If things are said (and written) which seek to 'expand' (even in the slightest) one's understanding, the recipient's cognitive abilities get short-circuited, trying to sort out the more complex whilst insisting on interpreting it according to their childish, selfish, immature mindsets. It's like trying to explain the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains to somebody who has only known the Adirondacks of upper NY state, who thinks the Adirondacks are the most 'grand' mountains that could possibly exist; and since your ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower (like theirs presumably did), and you haven't lived there all your life, you couldn't possibly know what you're talking about.
Paul says: "...till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the full true knowledge of the Son of God, to a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may -GROW-UP- IN ALL THINGS into Him who is the head, Christ..." (Eph4:13-15)
Children and adolescents typically rebel against adult authority which seeks to "train" them up into becoming responsible adults as they grow up. Sadly, the same seems to be true of many 'infant' Believers. All they wish to do is revel in "Jesus loves me" and "Praise the Lord"; and that's all the further they seem inclined to go. They don't want to "put an end to childish things" in order to "become a man".
If a person never gets past the babbling/googling stages, people feel 'sorry' for them because they never fully developed; they are often called, "retarded". Well, there's a lot of people calling themselves "christians", who are 'spiritually' retarded.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the rudimentary principles of the Words of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is without experience in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant." (Heb5:12-13)
And like the adolescent who overtly rebels, who argues and fights: "And I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like men?" (1Co3:1-3)
Scriptural admonition regarding the raising of children is: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." (Pr22:15)
How is discipline carried out in the Church? In Paul's day it was necessary for him to be strong with Corinth: "Now some are puffed up... What do you want? Shall I come to you with a [figurative] rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness?" (1Co4:18,21)
What is the purpose of the "rod"? Even at the most 'basic' level of creature development, even in the animal kingdom, something which Darwinian evolutionists teach in Psych 101 courses: the concept of 'reward and punishment'. The animal does something desired by the trainer, they are rewarded with food. The animal does something contrary, they receive some sort of punishment, such as electric shock, yank on the chain, or some other unpleasantness.
These same 'experts', however, when it comes to children, refuse to acknowledge the benefits/necessity of punishment. They focus on the rewards for good behavior, but neglect the punishment... I suspect, because they don't acknowledge the existence of such a thing as innate "sin".
God's Word says about punishment of a child: "Do not withhold correction from a lad, for if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol." (Pr23:13-14)
Certainly, punishment is 'painful'. That's the WHOLE POINT. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it." (Heb12:11)
Not every child requires the same approach. It all depends on that child's HEART. Some children have 'tender' hearts, and willing spirits to learn what is right. Others emerge from the womb screaming and fighting from the very start. It's like Jesus said about those who disobey: "And that servant who knew his masterís will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few." (Lk12:47-48) Some children grow to adulthood with hardly any discipline, as the parents will say things similar to, "I never had to speak a harsh word to [them]". Others were always in trouble, getting lickings, being in trouble at the principal's office, and getting in trouble with the law.
It seems to be a similar scenario in the Christian realm. Some come to faith in Christ, and they voraciously lap up and feast on God's Word, understanding it, and burying it in their hearts, and living WILLINGLY for the Lord, much as Samuel who said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening" (1Sa3:9-10) or like S/Paul, "What do You have in mind for me to do?" (Ac9:6)
Others, like the Corinthian church, need words like Paul chided them: Do you want me to come "with a rod"? Or like the exhortation to most of the churches in Revelation chs2-3, "..REPENT.." or else!
An earthly father might express wishes of his son: "My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, so that I may have a word to answer him who reproaches me." (Pr27:11) In other words, if somebody was accusing a child to his father, the father would know the accusation was false, because he knew his son's heart to be 'good'.
If you are a child of God, what is your heart? Our Heavenly Father yearns: "My son, give Me your heart, and let your eyes take pleasure in observing My ways." (Pr23:26)
Growing up to the "..measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.." (Eph4:13)