Monday, June 26, 2006

Hildegard of Bingen

I was reading a bit of Hildegard of Bingen's visions for Church History class, and one of them in particular struck me. She used the analogy of a baby for Christians. If a baby doesn't receive the proper nourishment from it's mother, it will die. So if one who is baptized doesn't receive the constant nurturing of his or her mother "the Church," the soul will die. The Church is necessary to one's life as a Christian. It reminded me of the fact that all too often, worship attendance is not a requirement for Church membership, and that's really sad. We're so ready to puff up our numbers, but not to actually nurture them into discipleship.

This analogy also made me about Paul's letter to the church in Corinth, where in chapter 3 he writes, "And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 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. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?" Or the author of Hebrews in chapter 5: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil."

So -- at what point do we stop being "baby Christians?" According to these two scriptural accounts, I fear that there are all too few "mature Christians" and far too many infants running around, thinking they know what is right and true. Christian behavior is often very comparable to that of children: not sharing, intent on getting his or her own way, throwing temper tantrums, not looking before they leap, sometimes wanting to free themselves of parental influence, etc...

When do we grow up?

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