Writing on a subject that Paul talks about, comparing faith to a baby, is extremely appropriate for a pastor and his family that just welcomed a third child into their fold this past December.
For the record: No, she is not the second coming of Jesus Christ.
That our own spiritual and faith journeys are similar to that of a growing baby is one of the angles Paul seems to be getting at with his comparisons. At some point in time, we all were an infant—a newborn with regards to our faith.
Some of us might not have known the difference between Adam and Eve. Or maybe we had never heard of Moses or knew what the Ten Commandments are and why they are important. Some of us might still not know, and that’s perfectly fine too. We all have to start somewhere.
If we want to grow from baby to toddler, and then eventually to full-grown child; we need to be intentional about both our relationship with God, and the deepening and strengthening of our faith. This brings us to how our faith can grow and how we can mature and grow spiritually and as disciples, and help others do the same: We do it with one another as we do it with babies. Here’s how:
We welcome babies with open arms and do not judge them.
When a baby is first born into this world, he or she is immediately given a free pass, and rightly so. They are not born with biases or assumptions about anything. What they eventually come to know is learned either through self-exploration or taught to them by someone else.
Consider this in relation to our faith. We do not start out with an instant hatred towards King Solomon or Goliath for fighting David. That has to be learned from somewhere. Similarly, we do not begin this spiritual journey with a certain understanding of why Christ died for our sins.
We don’t blame or condemn babies for what they do or do not know or understand in regards to this life and faith. We welcome them, coddle them, help them along the way and teach them—perhaps repeatedly—about what it means to be a Christian. We do not push them away or exclude them for not knowing as much as we do. We do not throw them out on the streets to fend for themselves, and we certainly do not judge them for thinking and acting differently than we do either. Granted, it may be frustrating from time to time, but we have to (at the very least) welcome the babies with open arms and without a hint of judgment.
This may require patience and understanding on our part, but it is what we must do when it comes to spiritual babies.
We prepare our homes so babies are safe and feel secure.
The first thing most new parents do is baby-proof their house so their babies are safe and can comfortably explore and grow. The same goes for the space of a church. We should ask ourselves what we can do to make others feel safe and secure in God’s house?
We feed babies appropriate foods on their schedule.
We don’t start babies off on a diet of steak and potatoes. We start them on liquid food and gradually introduce other foods as they grow.
The same approach can be used when it comes to sharing the Gospel. For instance, if I met someone who had never even heard the name Jesus Christ before, I would not dive right in and offer up the different type of atonement theories there are in regards to Christ’s crucifixion, or share details about anamnesis or transubstantiation. Instead, I would begin the conversation with something much simpler and more relatable.
We care for babies, nurture them and ensure they receive what they need.
It does no good to simply feed someone (or one another) and call it a day. We must continue to find ways to enrich our faith, broaden our relationship with God and find a certain meaning and purpose in life—and help others do the same. This is carried out in the greater collective church and cannot be solely placed on the shoulders of one person.
We must realize that no matter how deep our faith is, or how well-versed in the Bible we are, or how spiritual rich we feel, all of us—and I mean all of us—are children of God. Nobody has mastered this whole Christian thing, and we all need to continue to work on it in some form or fashion. No one has ascended fully into adulthood with Christianity, and I am not sure anyone ever really will.
There is always more to read, more to pray about and more to learn about in regards to God. We need to understand that we all are at different stages of our spiritual journey in life, which is why a church can be tricky to navigate sometimes.
It helps for us to have that reminder that there are in fact babies among us, and we may be one ourselves. Yet, no matter where we are along that line of progress, we are still precious children of God and God loves us all equally.