By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
To get better at something, you sometimes have to increase your level of difficulty setting.
I sometimes get to lead cowboy church at a bull riding practice pen on Sunday afternoons. Most recently, a guy showed up with another bull rider who had never been on a bull before. He asked if he could get on the biggest bull they had. He didn’t do it in front of everyone to call attention to himself and there was no one there for him to impress. If he was going to try bull riding, this guy decided he needed to be all-in.
That illustrates one simple point we know from different teachings in scripture about the need to be committed, serious and all-in when it comes to our faith.
But here’s where it takes an important turn.
The producer and stock contractor was frustrated because he has an amateur division of bull riders who never turn out to practice. They typically buck the more rank bulls at the practice pen with the purpose being to help the riders get better. The frustration comes when these guys have ridden 50 or more bulls at the amateur level and won’t come to the pen to get on stock that is actually less likely to hurt them and more likely to help the build their skills.
Many seem to just seem content keeping it easy. Many of us do the same thing with our Christianity.
Hebrews 5 12-14 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In these verses, the author, possibly Paul, is urging Christians to move from milk to solid food, meaning he wants to see them growing in their knowledge of Jesus Christ and what he had to teach.
Back at the practice pen, the new guy had an amazing experience and while he wishes he had wore a helmet, indicated he would the next time. He jumped into the sport at a harder level and even though he got banged up a little, he’s coming back for more.
You’re only going to learn so much getting on the jump-kicker bulls, you stand a better chance of falling off underneath one and getting hurt and unless you get on some ranker stock, you’re never going to get past that level.
We know as Christians that we will never be perfect like Jesus here in this life. But we know that we’re going through a process that will help us to become more like him, called sanctification. We can sit back and rest in our salvation and resist digging into God’s word and trying to apply it to our lives and situations and God will still welcome us.
But why would we want to settle and not have the chance to be at least a little more like Jesus now?
That’s why Paul urges us to get off milk and onto solid food, practicing what we’re learning and become more Christ-like as we train ourselves here and now for eternity in Heaven.
Back at the practice pen, we’re training ourselves to move up into professional competition where some will become world champions at the NFR or PBR. In our faith, we’re training ourselves to be more like Jesus.
We can understand the basics in scripture, milk, or we can dig in and let God’s word change us as we understand it more, being fed solid food. Solid food is what prepares us to deal with the challenges and consequences of living in
Or we can just keep getting on jump kickers and never be more than an amateur bull rider.