And salad bars and baby food aisles send me scurrying in search of animal flesh.
I'm a carnivore. I like meat. No, I love meat, preferably meat that used to say, "Moo," grilled over hot coals, with a pink center. A little seasoning, a fork and a knife, and I'm good.
Oh. Did you think I meant food?
(Well, actually, I am a carnivore at the dinner table, but...)
I mean church. Give me a meaty sermon, served up hot, convicting, Biblical, challenging. Give me something to chew on all week. Give me something so dense I'll need some toothpicks to go with it.
Keep your milk.
Keep your best life now.
I'll take my best life later, thanks.
A few years back, I was having a conversation with a visitor to our church. He was trying to be diplomatic, I think. "We prefer a more...emotional...relationship with the Lord."
Translation: The worship here doesn't get me revved up enough. Too many hymns; too many words.
I was stunned, not at the position, because I already knew it to be true about a large segment of the Church population. No, I was stunned at the willing admission, freely given as if it was acceptable, justifiable.
It makes me sad because I think it points to a cheapened view of the Gospel.
I don't understand what about a perfect God-man dying in my place...
or loving me while I was still a rebel...
or extending the unmerited favor of God...
or finishing the work He began in me...
or promising me a place in Heaven...
doesn't make us weep with grateful, humbled emotion.
What? In my place condemned He stood doesn't do it for ya?
It's like a large portion of the Body is saying,
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The cross. The resurrection.
Justification. Sanctification. I get it, already.
That substitutionary atonement stuff--that's so first century.
Can we get on to the more interesting "Holy Spirit" stuff?
Can we get to the power and gifts?
Can we focus on how much God just loooooooooves me?
Are you kidding me???
Author/theologian DA Carson, in his book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, talks about his infant son, who was a projectile vomiter:
At least he had an excuse. He was young, and his digestive system was obviously not as well developed as his sister's at the same age. Best of all, he quickly outgrew this stage. But there are Christians who are international-class projectile vomiters, spiritually speaking, after years and years of life. They simply cannot digest what Paul calls solid food. You must give them milk, for they are not ready for anything more. And if you try to give them anything other than milk, they upchuck and make a mess of everyone and everything around them. At some point, the number of years they have been Christians leads you to expect something like mature behavior from them, but they prove disappointing. They are infants still and display their wretched immaturity even in the way they complain if you give them more than milk. Not for them solid knowledge of scripture; not for them mature theological reflection; not for them growing and perceptive Christian thought. They want nothing more than another round of choruses and a 'simple message'--something that won't challenge them to think, to examine their lives, to make choices, and to grow in their knowledge and adoration of the living God." (p.72)Sighhhhh...
I am thankful for the Carnivorous Church.
I'm thankful for elders (like mine) who have such a high view of their men and good theology that they've taken them through a course in hermeneutics so that they can read the Bible better to themselves and to their families.
The making of carnivorous men.
I'm thankful for a such a high view of children that even the very young cut their teeth on weekly, meaty sermons with the adults-- a view which expects that even these little ones can take something away from it.
The making of carnivorous kids.
I'm thankful for a high view of women that expects them to display submissive feminine beauty with massive steel in their backs and theology in their brains. (Piper)
And we get the hermeneutics course, too! No knitting circle, this.
The making of carnivorous ladies.
I'm thankful for a such a high view of scripture and careful, expository preaching that is so concerned for God's glory and so centered on the Gospel that it might take three and a half years to cover the book of Matthew. And every sermon points back to the Cross.
The making of carnivorous congregations.
Meanwhile, back at the Happy Clappy Ranch...
we have Buffoons-For-Jesus (though I seriously doubt Jesus lays any claim to these Wide Path 'preachers') standing on the dais, proclaiming how much God is for you--with nary a mention of sin, repentance, or the price of redemption.
Simpering, spineless, large-smiled, small-brained, theology disdaining, scripture-altering, gospel-shrugging, crowd-pleasing, ear-tickling 'shepherds'...
who lead the sheep to thistly grass and standing water and cliffs' edges--and death.
Is there a place for these ministries?
There is a place for them.
But I digress.
Al Mohler, in an appropriately scathing indictment of modern preaching, says, "The anemia of evangelical worship...is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching. Such preaching would confront the congregation with nothing less than the living and active Word of God."
Why is the Church impotent? Because we're all feeding like a bunch of silly vegans...
We're suffering from a severe protein shortage.
We're losing muscle.
We can't even handle our Bibles. How are we supposed to handle a world at enmity with God?
And then we start hearing this trendy observation...which needs some discernment:
"I just wanna love God and love people."
I admit it; this makes me cringe.
Say this to me, and I'm staring at you through suspicious, squinting eyes trying to figure out...
Are you saying this because you're milk-fed or meat-fed?
If you're meat-fed, what you mean is,
If all of the law and prophets are summed up in these two commands, then I need to know the law and the prophets so I know what love looks like. I'm on the hook here. I better be feeding on and hearing preaching on the whole counsel of scripture.
If you're milk-fed, what you mean is,
Shrug. I'm off the hook. I don't need to know the law or the prophets...or pretty much anything else. All I need is a happy Sunday service with happy songs and a happy message and, um, happy people being, well, happy. And loving people means that, um, I'm nice to 'em.
So you'll have to excuse me if when you say to me, "I just wanna love God and love people," you are then subjected to a barrage of questions posed by moi. My own kids have gotten the interview.
I'm just trying to figure out your diet.
I dearly hope my home is a place where our children are weaned from milk to meat as soon as possible.
I dearly hope we are cultivating in our children an appetite and a craving for meat, not milk.
I dearly hope that in my home, we're raising Carnivore Christians.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge, to Jesus hath fled?