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Crying out for milk

By Nathan Decker

The stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone. For the untrusting it’s a stone to trip over, a boulder blocking the way.”

– 1 Peter 2:7-8

What are the aspects of Christian faith that trip you up? If you find yourself struggling to come up with an answer, then I challenge you to drink a little deeper of your faith. We should all have something about our faith that trips us up. For some it might be doctrine. Asking questions like “why do bad things happen to good people?” or “are we really born sinful and broken?” For others it might be the disciplines of faith: praying, reading, having holy conversations with people whom we disagree. And then it might just simply be Jesus.

Jesus refuses to be like us and demands that we follow him. Unlike social media algorithms that deliver us news, posts and memes, which we will always find agreeable and who trick us into believing the whole world agrees with us. Jesus challenges us through life, death, and resurrection as has the gall to ask us to follow. Jesus is either the rock upon whom we build our lives or he is the rock that keeps on finding his way into our shoe, reminding us of his presence, hitchhiking his way into our steps, tripping us up when we don’t listen to the tug at our heart.

Faith shapes who we are, especially when we are under pressure. In WWI it was said, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” The president is using war powers to battle an invasion of a virus. We are under pressure. Pressure like a geyser building up to suddenly explode. Pressure like a migraine at a rock concert. Pressure like an expectant mother about to give birth.

Lots of babies have been born recently in our congregation at High Street UMC. Every day we are a younger church. All births are miracles. And today we forget just how dangerous and how much can go wrong at birth for the mom and for the baby. Just 150 years ago infant mortality was in the double digits.

Birth is a traumatic experience. Our whole world of comfort and warmth suddenly becomes contractions pushing us upside down out into the cold world of bright lights, unmuffled sounds, and new experiences. The experience is so overwhelming we don’t even remember it but we honor it year after year in celebration.

After the birth, a baby can’t stay the same. Gotta learn how to breathe, gotta learn how to cry, and gotta learn how to connect when it isn’t as easy to connect through the umbilical cord anymore. After the birth, a baby is dependent on the mother for milk to grow. Before we’d just sit back, kick mama’s kidneys a little, and enjoy the warmth as everything we needed was just given to us. After the birth we have to learn how to connect to mama, how to get milk, how to cry that special cry that says, “I’m hungry, feed me!” There is nothing more sacred than a mother nursing her child, providing love from her very body to help the babe grow.

Our faith journey is the same. Salvation is a traumatic experience. Jesus turns our world upside down and pushes us from half-life into the full blown reality of kingdom come. The experience is so overwhelming that it changes how we see the world, how we see other people, and how we understand our role in participating in life. After we begin the journey of faith, we can not stay the same. Gotta learn how to pray, gotta learn how to listen, gotta learn how to connect when it isn’t so easy anymore.

After we are ‘born again’ we are dependent on God’s milk. We learn how to cry to God, “I’m hungry, feed me.” We learn that where we are today cannot be where we will be tomorrow. God expects growth. There is nothing more sacred than God nursing the babes of the world, providing love from his very body to help us grow.

1 Peter says it is time to grow up and mature in our faith. Drink deep from the milk of kindness. Experience growth through being more like Jesus and less like the broken shattered image of humanity. Build up on the stone that keeps tripping you up … it’s God’s cornerstone for your life, it’s Jesus. We are called to live into the questions and doubts we have while depending on God’s grace. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you — from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

1 Peter 2:10