I was talking to a friend the other day and this topic kept resurfacing during our dialogue … Christians who are only willing to go so far into the word of God. Why is it that some Christians become content and don’t desire to go deeper into the word of God? I thought, perhaps, it is for some of the same reasons that people stay in the shallow end of a swimming pool with no desire to ever learn to swim in the deep end.
I WANT TO SWIM IN THE DEEP END
When I shared this with my wife, Amy, she reminded me of our younger daughter Ella’s determination to pass the deep end test last summer at our town pool. At the start of the summer, Ella started begging us to let her take the deep end test. We didn’t think she was quite ready and we tried to counsel her to wait a bit. We told her that if you try to take the test before you’re ready and fail the life guard will watch you all the more closely the next time. And, it will be harder and harder to pass each time you have to take it.
We thought we had persuaded Ella to wait; until one hot afternoon when Amy and I decided to take the girls down to the town pool for a swim. We thought we would have a relaxing afternoon in the sun fellowshipping while we watched our daughters swim. Emma Grace, then nine, played a little in the shallow end with her little sister until she befriended some girls more her age who were swimming in the deep end. Well, it didn’t take long before Ella came out of the pool saying, “I want to take the deep end test!”
How can you say no to such a determined spirit. When we said, OK, Ella’s face lit up, she couldn’t have been more excited. Her teeth were chattering and her zero body fat body was shaking as we walked her over to the lifeguard’s chair to take the test.
PUTTING WHAT YOU’VE LEARDED TO THE TEST
Ella was instructed to go into the shallow end of the pool and swim on her stomach to the deep end swimming underneath the pool’s safety floating line. Then, she needed to swim on her back to the safety line and finally tread water for 60 seconds. Mom and I walked the length of the pool encouraging her as she swam. While still in the deep end the lifeguard told Ella to now tread water for sixty seconds. This was the hardest part for her. Because she has zero body fat, her little body wants to sink like an anchor. Well, our little Miss Ella was determined. It looked like she would rather drown before not passing that deep in test.
It felt like the longest 60 seconds of our life watching Ella fight as she treaded water. We all began to count down the final 10 seconds thinking it was encouraging her. But with the little breath she could muster up she told us to be quiet. Later she explained that it was distracting her and she just wanted to concentrate on what she had to do to pass.
In the end, she made it! All that hard work and determination paid off. She climbed up the ladder and we wrapped her in a towel and congratulated her with hugs, kisses and cheers. As we walked to get her official deep end wrist band she said, “I told you guys I could do it!”
Ella had such a strong desire to be a deep end swimmer. Oh, for us as Christians to have that same desire to be deep end swimmers in the Word of God … to desire to enter into the deep things of God.
NON SWIMMERS REMAIN IN THE SHALLOW END
1 Corinthians 3:1-6
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. (1 Corinthians 3:1-6 NLT)
Shallow end Christians are more easily tempted to follow men over Christ. They look to men instead of Jesus for their spiritual growth. Their spiritual growth is stunted by remaining in the basics, the milk of the word, or as I say the shallow end. Their spiritual growth is stunted because they are being led by immaturity. They should be swimming in the deep end of the Word of God by now.
HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION EQUALS GROWTH
1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
There is a time when the shallow end serves a purpose. But there comes a time when you need the deep things of God to produce spiritual growth. How else can we escape the desires of the world that once enslaved us to sin unless we grow up spiritually in the things of God. It’s the Peter Pan principle, the FEAR of growing up, can keep you from doing what it takes to be a mature Christian man or woman.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
This a warning against falling away. You should be teachers by now but you still need milk. Paul addresses that fact that the Hebrews were in desperate danger of quitting the race. He was urging them to go into the deeper things of God … into the deep end of the pool!
If we are not diligent church can become more of a habit then a relationship with Christ and fellowship with Christians can be nothing more than a social gathering to catch up on current events. It take discipline to not become lazy, less you become content with the basics of Christianity, never fully maturing in the faith. It is easier for shallow end Christians to let go of the reins of hope, fall away and enter back into worldly things.
As you reflect back on the story I shared about my little Miss Ella passing her deep end test, what words come to mind to describe what it took for a little girl to overcome such a big hurdle? Determination … Risk … Bravery … Hope … Hard Work … Persistence … Fearlessness … Effort … Becoming a deep end Christian takes these things too. The question for all of us is are you willing to venture out into the deep waters with God?