May 20, 2015 - Faith, Spiritual Growth    4 Comments

SHALLOW END CHRISTIANS

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.

imageWe 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.image

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.

Hebrews 5:11-14  

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?

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • I think knowing God is a REAL Person is first to wanting to go deeper with Him. Next is Knowing His personality is a loving, graceful, holy, eternal Father per The
    Source He’s given to us to know Him-His Word The Bible
    and His Unmatched Son Jesus Christ, who is The Answer to What would God be like if He was a human and how would live with others? I find the more I know Him the more I want to know Him and the more He reveals or shares of Himself with me directly aud through others. After all, isn’t this the same way we go “deeper” with people and they with us? I’ve had too long regarded God as impersonal, aloof and cosmic and too long relied on what others said ABOUT Him vs. Accepting He is The Original Person in whose image I am created and with whom there is NO greater and worthy to know for myself as Job saId near the end of his ordeal,
    “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” (Job 42:5)

  • Demetrius you are right on. I recently had a discussion where a Christian asked me why can’t they seem to get pass the basics of there Christian faith? I know better. We have to put what we know into practice and that will take us into the deep end. It’s in the deeper things of God and obedience to the Bible that grow us and promote the right relationship with Jesus. Amen

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • I wonder… how and what do you all practice to keep seeing God is real enough to “go deep” with Him when He is invisible?

  • Great question, what I do is read my Bible daily and take those opportunities to apply Biblical principles to my life. As a child growing up I loved watching the cartoon G I Joe, I still remember this quote at the end of each show, “that good to know and knowing is half the battle”. The other half is the doing (application).

    As far as God being invisible I see it this way no pun intended. We breath in the air every day because we need the oxygen that it provides. The air is invisible, however our bodies have a relationship with it. We have no problems taking full advantage of the air we breath although it too is invisible yet it too makes it presence know to us via the wind, the rustling of leaves, the swaying of trees. God makes himself visibility know to us by the very things we see, His creation, but just like the air we breath can be taken for granted so can God Almigty. Simply put it’s because of the relationship that I have built with Jesus and fellow Christians that causes me to want to go deeper into the things of God. This is what strengthens my faith.

    Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Amen

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