I have been working with a young man for the past year who is at the front end of his walking with Jesus. He is from Mexico, a DACA guy, a “dreamer” as they are known in this country, someone born in another country, has lived here almost all his life but is unable presently to gain citizenship. Even though he has lived in this country for 27½ of his 28 years, he is still referred to as an illegal alien. Besides being unfair, it is just a little weird. And perhaps very sovereign.
When I met Jorge a year ago, he had started to date a young Christian woman who was what I describe as “spiritually detached.” She appeared to be quite oriented to “the things of the Spirit” but upon probing a bit deeper, I would describe her as being largely disconnected from the fundamentals of the scriptures and quite enamored of “prophetic senses.” And although I have been raised with the charismatic aspects of the faith, I have also evolved into one of the more outspoken critics of the excesses of that segment of the faith. I am one of them. I love them. And I despise the very unhealthy expressions that define the margins of this movement.
I have met with my DACA friend weekly and we have worked our way through the gospel of Luke, the book of Acts and upon his request, we have entered the book of Romans. Here’s our simple method:
*Jorge (not his real name) reads a chapter per week every day and during his reading he will write down particular questions that arise for him in his reading. Increasingly as the year moves on, his questions are more pertinent and deeper. He is gaining fluency in the scriptures and increasingly understanding the mind and ways of God and how to relate to Him and the world He has created.
*When Jorge and I get together weekly, we go through the chapter, talk through his questions and I make him aware of larger themes and biblical perspectives he missed. And it’s been wonderful for him to grow in this way. Yet it has been equally delightful for me to go back into the ABCs of the faith and rediscover the crucial foundations for every believer. Our last session together was exactly that.
I brought Jorge into Hebrews 5 where the writer begins to teach a difficult piece on the priesthood of Melchizedek. Then the writer stops short and tells these folks that they are not ready for what he wants to teach. Here is the reason:
*they have become ”dull of hearing”
*they have not progressed to the place where they can give to others. (The writer states that by this time they ought to have progressed to the “teacher” stage).
*But they need to be re-taught the fundamentals, the “milk” of the word.
*They are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” or, it is far from the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6) in their hands but far more like a clumsy club that will never prove to be helpful
*He defines maturity as those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice
*They are children who are milk drinkers alone and completely unfamiliar with the “meat” of the Word. Their growing discernment comes with this constant practice (Greek: gumnazo, our gymnasium)
*And they grow clearer and clearer in discerning the good or bad of anything
And this is exactly what is occurring for Jorge. The framework of how he perceives anything is being shaped by the meat of God’s word, the very way He thinks.
And not too far down the road, I am sure Jorge will be teaching others how to “practice” in God’s gymnasium. Constantly!!
It’s hard to build spiritual muscle if you only work out on Sunday mornings.