There are many parallels between the spiritual life of and the natural life. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:6-7). At the beginning of our life on earth, we are conceived in the womb. At the beginning of our spiritual life, we hear the word of the Lord. According to Jesus, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:44-45). After a baby in the natural is born, he needs milk. After a person is born of the spirit, he needs to be feed spiritual milk. Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2). This is not the only parallel between natural babies and Spiritual babies. Babies need lots of reassurance and love. They have not yet learnt how to do anything. Spiritual babies are similar. Spiritual babies are still learning how to pray and study their bible. Therefore, just like natural babies, they need someone to feed them spiritual milk. They may not yet know basic church house etiquettes. They need a “parent” to teach, love, and support them so that they will grow into spiritual toddlers.
Spiritual toddlers have learned some basic principles of God’s word. They, like natural toddlers, are easily excited and naturally curious about everything. Some of the most basic things have the tendency to captivate the attention of a toddler. For example, my 17 month old is thrilled tremendously with finding a pinecone. Some adults barely take notice of pinecones others simply see them as annoyances that must be removed. My son only sees the wonder in them. He will collect as many of them as possible even setting down a toy in order to pick them up off the ground. It is the same way with spiritual toddlers. They will come to a verse in the Bible and only see the wonder or excitement while the rest of us have seen that verse so many times; we fell to see the wonder. They still see the wonder because they are still learning.
Just as toddlers are starting to eat some solid foods, spiritual toddlers are beginning to partake of some of the meat of the word of God. However, it still needs to be cut into small pieces so they do not choke. Toddlers are still learning how to chew through the various textures of food. Spiritual toddlers often need the principles from the Word of God broken down into smaller manageable bites or chunks. Spiritual toddlers are still learning how to mediate on the Word of God. They are still learning how to study. If they are not given good instruction, there is the danger of them taking a scripture out of context. Just as Paul told Timothy to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), mature Christians need to teach spiritual toddlers this same truth.
Just as natural toddlers get into everything and try to do everything, so do spiritual toddlers. Spiritual toddlers are so excited about their salvation that they will go out and try to witness to everybody; however, they lack the knowledge and wisdom to know how. Since they lack the knowledge and wisdom, they often succumb to the attacks of the devil. They need to be carefully guarded by a mature Christian because “…the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).
Natural toddlers are impatient, demanding, and very persistent. They will quickly throw a temper tamper when things do not go their way. Spiritual toddlers are similar. They have learned that God answers prayers, but they have not yet learned to wait on God’s timing. Without someone there to calmly remind them that God’s timing is not our timing, they will easily get discouraged. At times natural toddlers cry for no apparent reason. For example, the other day my son wanted a certain fruit. I was getting the fruit for him, but he became impatient and started crying. As I was trying to give him some of the fruit, he continued to complain. He was unable to see that I was giving him what he wanted because he was too busy complaining that he did not get it when he wanted it. Spiritual toddlers are the same way. God says yes and they cannot hear him because they are too busy franticly trying to get his attention.
Other times natural, toddlers fail to see the danger in what they want. For example, my son will see something like a bottle of lotion and think it is the best toy to put into his mouth. He fails to recognize that lotion if ingested is poisonous. Spiritual toddlers likewise will see something and want it. They will ask God for it repeatedly. They will cry out in anguish when they do not get it. Just like parents who keep a toddler from getting something dangerous, God patiently continues to say no and at times spiritually carries the spiritual toddlers away from the danger. Sometimes a toddler will try to break and run straight into danger such as the street. Spiritual toddlers likewise will see a place that looks good and will try to run straight to it. They often fail to heed the warning of the Holy Spirit just as a toddler fails to heed the warning of the parent. Therefore, in both cases the toddler must be pick-up and restrained. The parent restrains one; God or a mature Christian that is moved by the Holy Spirit restrains the other.
Just as God commanded parents to train children, God has called mature Christians to train the spiritual babes in Christ. Train is another word for teach or disciple. Therefore, you are suppose to teach the spiritual babes not just lead them to Christ and expect them suddenly know everything. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJ). If Jesus had intended for us only to lead people to him, he would not have instructed us to make disciples. Many people attempt to treat babes in Christ the same way they would a tomato plant. They want to increase the number of people in the church house on Sunday morning with very little work the rest of the week. They are so to speak rising up people to sit in the pew. A tomato plant can sit on the pew on Sunday morning, but it will only last a short season. The major differences between raising tomatoes and teaching children is this, tomatoes only need water, sunlight, dirt, and fertilizer while babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers need love, mercy, discipline, food, clothing, shelter, and guidance just to name a few things. In addition, tomatoes cannot walk, talk, or learn. However, even though mature Christians have the responsibility to guide and teach babes/ children in Christ, we should always remember that it says, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21). This means that we should not put so much pressure on them to be prefect that it is impossible for them to be successful. Remember that just like you, they are still human and they will make mistakes sometimes.
Nature children have learned how to stop and ask for help and sometimes wait patiently for the help. Spiritual children have also learned to wait for some instructions. They, like all children, still have the tendency to only get half of the instructions before running off half-cocked. Children are still very energetic learners. They still need careful guidance. It is important that the hope, faith, and resolve that children have are not lost as they are learning how to do things the proper way. Remember that Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is Children.
The next stage is quite possibly the most difficult. It is adolescence. Here they start trying to stretch their wings and fly. It is also quite possible the most rewarding time. When they are successful, it is great to watch them soar to new heights. However, there is still the chance of crashing to the ground. This is the stage where one minute they act mature and the next minute they act like scared little children. Sometimes I think that it is almost impossible to truly leave this stage in the spiritual sense or the natural sense. I am now a wife and mother and sometimes I still feel like a scare little child. That is when I have to remember to run to Jesus and ask for help. He is my Heavenly Father.