Charlotte is extremely rich in church culture and offers a wide variety of worship experiences. Indeed, the Queen City offers a smorgasbord of spiritual delicacies for one’s palate.
This having been said, there are a number of ways that we can be spiritually fed.
By “being spiritually fed”, I mean that we as Christians need to hear the Word of God through preaching and teaching by our church leaders on a regular basis. This teaching and/or preaching is what edifies or builds up the inner-man (our spirits) –
Eph 3:16 “ That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;”
We humans are all triune beings, meaning that we are comprised of a body, a soul (the mind, intellect, emotions, etc.), and a spirit. Our spirits are the only part of us that can directly commune with God (through His Holy Spirit) –
Rom 8:16 “ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”
Our spirits must be “fed” or edified (built up, taught, or strengthened) –
Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Rom 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification
1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
We grow spiritually by both hearing and being taught the Word of God regularly. Our pastors and ministers have the divinely ordained task of making sure that we grow in our knowledge of and faithfulness to Christ.
That’s why I started this important series – because I (and every other spiritual leader) am responsible for seeing that you grow in The Lord. –
2 Cor 10:8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
What are you being fed?
A crucial part of “being fed” is your understanding of where you are spiritually and attending a fellowship that truly suits your needs (notice that I said needs, not wants).
When I refer to “where you are spiritually”, I mean that we all as Christians, develop or grow at different rates. If you have been saved recently (a babe in Christ), then you are not yet ready to be taught certain difficult Biblical concepts. You need to first learn all about Christ and the plan of redemption.
If you have been saved for years and are “maturing in The Lord”, you need to have a more advanced type of learning geared towards knowing the “Mysteries of God and His Christ” (Rom. 11:25, Rom. 16:25,
I Cor. 2:7,I Cor. 4:1, Eph. 3:4, Eph. 3:9, Eph. 5:12).
There are some pastors that focus on only one type of food. A good pastor must prepare (with the Holy Spirit’s leading), a variety of “spiritual delicacies”.
Sweet and Sour
We must be careful to take in good, nourishing spiritual food. There are some pastors that only serve one meal over and over again. You cannot grow in these settings.
Some pastors focus only on “shouting and falling out” in church (I call them “good-time Charleys”). They emphasize the praise and worship emotional high, but offer no real sustenance or nutritional value.
They feel that church should be like a never ending party and everything they place before you is “sweet” to your ears. But soon afterwards, all they really gave you was a stomach ache, followed by spiritual cavities (a hole in your soul).
“Prosperity preachers” and those pastors who always preach about “It’s your time” and “expect a miracle” are very much in this category as well. They can only show you “cotton candy”, which tastes very sweet, but only leaves you hungry later.
Watch out for these types of leaders – they have no real nutrition to give you.
Next are the sour preachers that always condemn everyone and everything. They have nothing but bad things to say about everyone except themselves.
These folks leave you so depressed and frustrated, that you are too upset to eat spiritually. You can’t get that awful taste of your imperfections out of your mouth. They leave you with little hope and even less desire to serve God.
They tell you to fast more, get deliverance more, pray more, cry out to God more – but all of this is never enough. They focus on “works” or legalism – which could not save you to begin with, which is why Christ came to die for us in the first place. As the Scripture tells us –
Rom 8:15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!
Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Over seasoned food
Some pastors try to “force feed” their flocks, meaning that they keep shoving way too much down your throat.
They love to share all of their knowledge and never think about whether the people can bear it. Their meat is too seasoned or too burdensome for the congregation to stand. You can only get nutrition from what you can digest.
These pastors don’t realize that people are spiritually “puking” in the aisles on Sundays. Or else they’re flushing it down the proverbial toilet because it’s too rich for them to handle.
1Cor 3:2 I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it; nor are you able even now.
Pastors have the responsibility of serving “wholesome meals” – exhortation (encouragement/hope), reproof (disciplinary correction), teaching sound doctrine, instruction in Godliness, and trust in the infallibility and the reliability of God’s Word -
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
2Tim 3:17 that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.
2Tim 4:2 preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
All of these meals are necessary for your growth, which brings us to the topic of knowing what stage you are at in Christ so that you know what type of nourishment you need.
Still on the milk – “Babes in Christ”
Some types of newer believers are as follows – those who are: new to being born again and serving God (novices); still attached to the things of this world (carnally-minded); and lastly, those who are still lacking in the full understanding of Godly and Heavenly things (people who have been saved for years, but are still caught up in “signs and wonders” or who are still unable to grasp the “Mysteries of God and Christ”).
All three kinds of babes - novices, “worldly minded believers “(still sinning without feeling guilty), and those always looking for miracles - require “spiritual milk” just as a baby needs literal milk. Neither a spiritual baby nor a real baby can digest “solid food” (strong meat).
Young Christians need simple spiritual food such spending time learning the Bible basics (Bible stories), becoming familiar with Old Testament concepts such as priestly and Levitical sacrificial rites, understanding who Christ truly is, and how salvation through Him changes their lives.
These fundamentals are extremely essential to Christian growth. Though we all grow at different rates, we all must start out learning the basics or “Christianity 101” as I call it. This building block sets the stage for more advanced learning and without the above mentioned fundamentals, no one can truly grow in Christ.
Paul calls all of these types of Christians “ babes in Christ” –
1Co 3:1 And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it; nor are you able even now.
Heb 5:13 For everyone partaking of milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness, for he is an infant.
1Pet. 2:2 Desire the sincere milk of the Word, as newborn babes, so that you may grow by it;"
Part 2 of this series will reveal how to tell if your spiritual leader / pastor is providing you with a wholesome spiritual diet.