Can you remember going to school the first year? Some major adjustments had to be made. For one thing, they insisted that I wear shoes. How unreasonable! Things only got worse when my teacher explained that I was expected to sit still and quiet for long periods of time. It was excruciating! And, then, she insisted that I learn all sorts of new and challenging things – letters and reading and numbers and addition.
But, you may be surprised to hear, I mastered all that was expected of me (OK, it may have taken more than one year to get the hang of that still-and-quiet part). As most students do, I moved on to the next grade, and a year later to the next and so on.
What if a kid stayed in first grade for 5 years? Some find it necessary to repeat once to learn what they need to move on, but 5 years? What if the child stayed for 20 years?
Unthinkable? We wouldn’t allow such! Our educational system has processes in place to insure that we don’t have 20-year-olds in first grade. And can you imagine any child wanting to stay in first grade for years? It would get terribly boring – and embarrassing.
But what about at church? Do we allow people to stay in first grade for years – even decades? Might we personally choose to stay in first grade? Do we balk at meeting the challenges of learning and progressing? Are we content to stay in elementary school?
The writer of Hebrews chided some who had been Christians for as much as 20 years without graduating. “By this time you ought to be teachers,” he said, but instead, “you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again” (Hebrews 5:12). They had been hanging around for so long without advancing that they had forgotten even their elementary lessons.
The solution? Do something! “Leave the elementary teachings about Christ,” he urges them, “and go on to maturity” (6:1). That was a choice they would have to make. He provided instruction. The effort to learn must come from them – and us.
It may not be easy or comfortable to learn and advance, just as it wasn’t immediately comfortable being in first grade. But, with time and experience, the challenging becomes comfortable – even boring. Then it’s time for a new challenge.
First grade is great – for first graders. But, it’s not for adults! Let’s learn, pass, and get promoted!