Sunday’s Sermon: Are We Ready for Solid Food?

  • Boys have recently started eating “solid” foods → It’s funny how this one change has made such a significant impact on our lives. It’s turned every meal in our household into an adventure!
    • What will the boys eat today?
    • How much will they eat? In conjunction with that, how much will they be wearing by the end of the meal?
    • This step = become a very tangible representation for us of how much and how quickly they’re changing – learning, growing and maturing
    • Learning to eat = not the only way to be adventurous with our food → constantly learning, growing and maturing in our own tastes, too
      • If you love to cook …
        • How often do you go into your kitchen and just start putting things together?
        • How often do you try a new recipe, especially one with some exotic ingredient?
      • If you prefer to eat out …
        • How often do you try something new at your favorite restaurant?
        • How often do you try a new restaurant, especially one that serves real ethnic dishes?
          • Americanized versions don’t count
      • Just like the boys are learning to try new things and finding appreciations for new foods, our own culinary preferences are often developing and changing.
    • And as I was thinking about the Scripture passages this week, it struck me that both as individual people of faith and as the church together, we’re not so different.
      • Constantly learning, growing, and maturing in our faith
  • Learning = messy process!
    • When it comes to baby food – Ian and Luke are constantly covered in all manner of foodiness → inevitably end up with food in their noses, eyebrows, hair, etc. … but this is how they learn.
      • Learn about consistency → soft, smooshie, crunchy, wet
      • Learn about feeding themselves → Have you ever thought about what a complex action it is trying to get your spoon up to your face and actually getting it into that small hole that is your mouth?
        • Developing coordination
        • Developing muscle control
        • Learning about gratification (sometimes instant, sometimes delayed, depending on how coordinated they’re being!)
    • As someone who likes to cook – trying a new recipe can be messy, too
      • Pulling out bowl after bowl after bowl
      • Trying to find space on the counter for …
        • Ingredients
        • Necessary equipment (bowls, mixer, cutting board, etc.)
        • Recipe (card, book, iPad) → must be easy to see but not easy to spill on
    • And when it comes to all the learning and growing and maturing that we do in our faith, that’s a messy process, too!
      • Messy because it’s a series of choices – Deut text: See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. … I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.[1]
      • Choices, choices, choices … and choices can be tricky things. Simply making a – any choice! – choice is difficult enough sometimes.
        • Story of trying to choose a Barbie dress as a kid
      • And choices are also messy because when we look back, there are always some choices we’re glad we’ve made, but there are also some we wish we could take back and do over.
        • Deut passage = Moses speaking to the Israelites → What an exceptionally messy history of good choices and bad choices! So why is it so hard? How can things get so messy so fast?
    • Paul answers our question with a question this morning: For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?[2] → So Paul wants to know what it is that we’re basing our decisions on. Do we base them on our own desires and imperfections – imperfect perceptions, imperfect understandings, imperfect mindsets – or do we base them on God?
      • Paul makes it clear – choices based on something other than God end up a mess
        • Divisiveness
        • Quarreling
        • Finger-pointing
        • Accusations
    • Now, wait … is Paul talking about the church in Corinth at this point, or did he have some window into today’s Church? Because this sounds awfully similar to the mess that Christianity has become today. We’re more focused on the ways we’re different than we are on the connections that we share in this amazing gift called “faith.”
      • Paul’s opinion about this type of behavior is clear: For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. … For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.[3] → Paul’s saying, “It’s not about who does the planting. It’s about who does the growing … and for each and every one of us, that’s God.” – reminder that we are always growing, learning and maturing in the light of God’s guidance and love
  • And thank God for that guidance and love because the choices out here are endless!
    • You know, when it comes to baby food, one of the craziest and more unexpected things that we’ve discovered is the varying degrees that fall under the umbrella term “solid food.”
      • At least 4 levels of “solid” when it comes to baby food (at least according to Gerber[4]): food for supported sitters (REALLY runny puree), food for independent sitters (sorta runny puree), food for crawlers (puree with small pieces of food), actual solid foods (flavored baby puffs, Cheerios, etc.) → start with the thinner stuff because that’s what their little bodies can handle – build on that
      • And sometimes, it all just gets to be too much. There are nights when the boys are too tired or too crabby from teething or too whatever to be able to handle that crazy “other stuff” we’re trying to give them, and we have to go back to a bottle – what’s familiar and uncomplicated and comfortable.
        • Sometimes even when you think you’re ready, there’s still lots of growing, learning, maturing to do
    • Paul to Cor: I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.[5] → basically, “You still have a lot of growing and maturing to do.”
      • See this in the Gr. – “not ready for solid food” = not able → literally aren’t equipped/prepared to process this yet
      • Scholar explains further: The problem with the Corinthians is not their desire to grow in divine wisdom. The problem is that they have been seeking the wrong kind of wisdom from the wrong sources! Genuine insight into the plans and purposes of God is given only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.[6] → As Deuteronomy put it, the Corinthians are trying to choose life. They’re trying to choose prosperity and blessings. They’re trying to follow God. They’re trying … but somewhere along the line, they ended up focusing on the wrong thing.
        • Focused on which disciple they followed – “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos” – instead of focusing on the universal message imparted by all disciples: Love God. Obey God. Hold fast to God.
        • Reminds me of Megan and Phil with their kids – “Make good choices”
  • As Peter, Luke, Ian, and I are all navigating this labyrinthine world of “solid foods” together, we’re constantly growing and learning and maturing.
    • Process of trial and error → Are they ready for something like Cheerios yet? Are they ready for water from a sippy cup? Are they ready to try some softer, very small pieces of our food?
      • Some nights = yes, some nights = no
      • Some foods = yes, some foods = no
      • Not the same for both boys either
    • Process of going back to things again and again → not big fans of peas or green beans right now … but we keep trying!
    • And when it comes to our faith, we’re also in a constant process of growing and learning and maturing. Following God doesn’t come down to one single choice that happens easily overnight. It’s a process of discovery. Faith – both our personal faith and our shared faith as this church and as the wider Church – was never meant to be a stagnant sort of endeavor.
      • Deut: If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous.[7] → Heb. “observing” = being attentive to, protecting, retaining
        • This implies that we are to take an active role in continuing to grow and learn and mature in our faith. We’re not supposed to be passive observers, just catching glimpses of God from afar without really getting involved. We’re supposed to be attentive to God’s commandments, decrees, and ordinances, protecting God’s way and retaining God’s Word.
  • Think about your favorite food – that thing that you just love to eat more than anything, that you relish and savor and eat super-slowly so you can make it last as long as possible. Now think back. Do you remember the first time you had that favorite food? Is it a food that you started eating when you were a baby? Or is it something that you grew to appreciate and eventually love over time?
    • Story of having a sip of Mom’s mocha for the first time → Now, what would I do without my coffee?!?
    • That’s kind of the way it is with our faith. Every morning, we get up and make the choice. We choose life. We choose faith. We choose belief in the face of the world’s disbelief and despair. We choose to follow God, even though most of the time we don’t know where that path may lead.
      • Won’t always make the right choice → learn as we go
      • As we choose, we continue to learn to choose → It’s messy. It’s a process of discovery that we return to again and again and again … but each time, we learn a little something new. We uncover a new part of our faith and ourselves. And like that favorite food, we grow a little more familiar, a little more comfortable, and a little more fond of the whole experience until we can’t imagine our lives without it.
  • So let me ask you this: If Paul were standing in front of you now and said to you, “Are you ready for solid spiritual food?” … what would you say? Amen.


[1] Deut 30:15, 19.

[2] 1 Cor 3:3b.

[3] 1 Cor 3:4-7, 9.

[5] 1 Cor 3:2-3a.

[6] P. Mark Achtemeier. “Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany – 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 – Theological Perspective” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Year A, vol. 1. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 352.

[7] Deaut 30:16.

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