The axolotl, also called the Mexican salamander, is a strange creature. It resembles a translucent, pale oversized tadpole, never changing or becoming ‘mature’ throughout it’s whole life. Because of this, the axolotl has captured the attention and imagination of philosophers and writers; being used frequently as a symbol of someone who is afraid of growth. I recently saw a T.shirt for sale with an axolotl on the front with the slogan “Never grow up!”
Let’s Not Be Axolotls!
“someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.” Hebrews 5:13
Here, Paul addresses the problem of perpetual immaturity in the church; those who were happy enough to remain just as they were, never moving on from the spiritual “milk” only intended for new believers to the “meat” of God’s Word.
This is still a common issue in the church today.
How do we ‘grow up’?
By learning to feed ourselves: Any baby needs to be fed until she can feed herself, and even when she’s slightly older, she still needs to be supervised, in case she eats something dangerous.
But if my children, who are now all grown up, were still trying to cram their adult bodies into a high chair and expect me to stand there and spoon-feed them soft, mushy food, I think we’d have a problem!
So often we are like this in church. We arrive at church, perhaps having hardly glanced at our Bibles during our hectic week, never mind actually in depth study, expecting our pastors to feed us. Then off we go again, hoping this week’s sermon will be sufficient to get us through the week! As a result, many Christians are undernourished, if not starving, spiritually.
Is it your pastor’s fault? Are his sermons not ‘meaty enough.’? That’s not what my Bible says. It’s certainly not the case in the Church I belong to. We are blessed with a wealth of good, solid Bible teaching. But in addition to that, God invites me personally, to His banqueting table. And “He prepares a table for me, in the presence of my enemies” Psalm 23:5
You and I don’t have to live off the crumbs from someone else’s feast! Neither is it fair to expect our pastors to feed us, like giant babies.
Of course, that’s not to say that the teaching we receive in our churches is not vital. But God can use what your church teaches as a ‘springboard’; It’s to pique your curiosity to study further, not to sit back feeling full, satisfied and ‘fed’ for the week ahead. That equals trying to live off someone else’s leftovers – however rich and filling they may be in the moment – And we will end up spiritually starved.
It’s my responsibility to keep myself nourished on God’s Word.
Why Should We Grow?
Axolotls follow the design set for them by God, who created them. So should we. The design set for us is to grow up in Him; to become mature, so that we can:
1. Love, Support and Encourage Others
Being a Christian isn’t actually ‘all about me’. Growing into spiritual maturity involves so much more than just my own joy and peace. I’m designed to grow in Christ’s likeness, displaying the fruit of The Spirit, so that I can unselfishly encourage and love others.
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” Hebrew 5:12
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
The word ‘child’ /childish is used 5 times here in just this one verse, so strongly does Paul want to contrast the difference between spiritual childishness and maturity. And the context is relating to others in love.
2. To Equip us for Life:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
“Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong”. Hebrews 5:14
Mature Christians have ‘trained themselves’ on solid food.
The word ‘train’ here, is the same word used in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
2 Samuel 22:35:37
“He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.”
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
Why? The next verse goes in to say so “that the man if God may be complete, equipped for every good work”
2 Timothy 3:17
Let’s not be like the Axolotl. Let’s grow up and go forward in Him!
We have the Holy Spirit living in us, who trains, teaches, leads, guides, admonishes, equips and instructs us, every step of the way!