Twelve things we tell kids that doctors tell us are NOT true:
No.1 Eating Carrots help you see in the dark
No.2 Watching too much TV will damage your eyesight
No.3 Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis
No.4 If you swallow chewing gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years
No.5 Swimming After Eating Causes Cramps
No.6 If you go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold
No.7 Crossing your eyes will make you go cross-eyed
No.8 If you sneeze with your eyes open, they will fall out
No.9 Eating Chocolate Causes Acne
No. 10 If you make a funny face too long, it will stay that way
No. 11 If you swallow a watermelon seed, it will grow inside you.
No.12 Drinking Coffee Will Stunt Your growth
Now, almost all of us have heard some of these, and you might even be inclined to argue about a few, but doctors agree these are essentially urban myths about what is good for us, and what is not good for us.
Yet we continue to tell them, and debate about some of them.
For me, it was the last one, the one about the stunted growth that I heard a lot growing up. And of course, being kids, we did all the things that weren’t supposed anyways, and all three brothers in my family grew to be over 6 feet tall.
So at least some of the warning about stunting our growth was incorrect.
So what IS correct? What do doctors say causes stunted growth in children?
Here’s that list:
Excessive Carbohydrates (which means yes, too much sugar and white bread is bad for kids)
Carbonated Drinks – They increase calcium levels making bones harder so they grow slower.
Crohn’s Disease (often undiagnosed intestinal disease)
Ritalin – Kids who are given Ritalin are at least an inch shorter on average.
Lead Poisoning (so be careful when you buy toys make overseas)
Genetics – if you’ve got short parents, when you’re not likely to be tall, although most kids are a little taller than their parents these days due to other factors.
And believe it or not, excessive sports. Studies have found that the rigors of intensive gymnastics, wrestling or long distance running can both compact the spine and discourage the elongation of muscle groups. Kids will be muscular but not as tall.
So these, are some true things that we should watch out for if we don’t want our kids to have stunted growth.
Now, I will temper both lists with a caveat: “true according to the lastest evidence”. I say that because in the 1970’s we were told that eating eggs, and drinking a glass of wine would give us heart attacks, but now we are being encouraged to eat an egg a day and a small portion of wine with a meal might even be good for our health. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach, and that’s in the bible, so we know that’s true.
But we don’t always get sound medical advice. I think that folk are often well intentioned, but in the 1950’s and before, menthol cigarettes were actually prescribed as a treatment for asthma by doctors who were smoking them right in the examination room with you, and poisonous mercury in the form of mercurichrome was placed right into wounds, and astbestos was considered a insolater so much safer than lead that magazine advertisements actually pictured babies chewing on it as part of their sales pitch.
So when it comes to health and safety advice, it’s usually only according to what doctors and scientists seem to know now. You cannot count on them as gospel truth.
But doctors have for years been trying to dispell quite a few false ideas when it comes to our health.
For example, if you want to grow big muscles, eating only large cans of spinach everyday like Popeye will not help.
Spinach does have some good vitamins, but it simply too low in calories to assist in growth or musclebuilding.
You could eat spinach all day long and you would die of malnutrition because it is a great food to eat with other things, but spinach alone would NOT sustain you.
Nor would a big glass of milk three times a day. You’d get calcium and some good vitamins. You’d get some protien and calories. It’s not a bad food.
But milk ONLY, is a bad idea. Babies can do it, especially if it’s mothers milk, but adults will not thrive on milk only, and these are several serious condition that will develop if you drink only milk which would eventually lead to malnutrition and even death.
Which brings us to Hebrews 5.
In the time of the early church, just like today, there is a lot of false information going around. And some of the first believers were growing nicely, but some of them were becoming stunted.
They were not growing as they should because they have depended upon things that are false and unhelpful, and not, as the case may be literally, the gospel truth.
And the author of Hebrews actually places the blame right on those believers themselves. He tells them they have become “dull of hearing”.
And because of that they are not taking in what they should to grow and mature in Christ. They have become stunted.
And right here I wanted to stop and give an example of this that comes from another religious tradition. It’s called the parable of the mountain, and it’s not in the bible, but I think it’s a great illustration of the theme of our reading today,
And it tells of a group of faithful truth seekers who start up a mountain with their teacher. Everyone is excited to start the journey, and at first the path is easy.
At the end of the first day, the group gets part way up the mountain and sets up camp for the night. Every is tired so they rest, and arise early the next day. Some of the group, seeing the wonderful vista from the campsite say “let’s stay here, we have risen to the new place and it is a glorious place, let’s just stay”.
But the leader beseaches them to reconsider. He assures them that although they have come up from where they were to this new glorious place, there is much more glory and reward if they continue.
The leader convinces many of them, but some do stay behind and make a settlement near the foot of the mountain.
The rest continue upward, but the second day is much harder, and the view when they stop is even greater. At this campsite over half the group abandons the journey and makes a settlement there. After all, even though the peak might be amazing, this place is pretty good. No need to push on.
And this continues day after day, and more and more quit the climb, and make their home at the various levels along the trail, with each level having an even greater view.
“But the peak is in sight”, says the leader, we must keep on.
But unfortunately, most have abandoned the climb. And only a handful make it to the top. But when they do, they are filled with a joy like they have never known, because from the peak the whole of heaven in their site. They realize then the great reward of perseverence.
The same is true with followers of Christ. Paul tells us the our life in Christ is NOT a comfortable destination but a race, and a race to run well, all the way to the end.
And in Hebrews we see the truth that some people after accepting Christ simply camp right were they are, and do not thrive. They do not grow in Christ, they don’t continue the climb and so they don’t get to experience the whole Kingdom of God the way He wants them to.
So the bible tells us we are to always be striving for the peak. There is no settling down for the disciple of Jesus.
By His example, Jesus never settled down and He was always on the move, because there was always more to do.
And he encourages us to join in with that, and warns that we will get stunted if we do not.
Hebrews Chapter 5 [from the NLT – New Living Translation]
1 Now a high priest is a man chosen to represent other human beings in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers their sacrifices for sins.
2 And because he is human, he is able to deal gently with the people, though they are ignorant and wayward. For he is subject to the same weaknesses they have.
3 That is why he has to offer sacrifices, both for their sins and for his own sins.
4 And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He has to be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.
5 That is why Christ did not exalt himself to become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. ”
6 And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.”
7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God.
8 So even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
10 And God designated him to be a High Priest in the line of Melchizedek.
11 There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand.
12 You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food.
13 And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right.
14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.
Now we see this text broken into two parts. Verse 1-10 are very much a continuation of the discusssion of the priesthood of Christ, and an argument about how Jesus alone is the true priest, and the only one we need.
This has gone on for the first four chapters of Hebrews as well. They are these questions going around…”Christ is great…but is he greater than….Moses…the angels…ect…” For four and half chapters Paul answers them well.
And I say Paul, knowing full well that there is no conclusive evidence that Paul is the author of Hebrews, but I personally believe it’s pretty likely.
As proof of that, Paul, for one liked to use step by step “courtroom” style arguments, as he did in much of the Book of Romans. And this would be a good companion piece to that book, this time writen to the Jewish people themselves.
But the strongest case for Hebrews being written by Paul, for me, is the authors use of “milk” and “solid food”, phrases that we know Paul used, ansd used often, and are used here in the very same way he used.
Who actually wrote down the words doesn’t really matter. We know who the real author is, and that author is the Holy Spirit.
But Hebrews is one of those books that is very mysterious. And it’s origin is only one of them.
It’s also a book filled with obscure references and phrases that some times just plain strange, and other times almost contradictory to other parts of the bible.
Which is one thing I find very intersting about Hebrews. If you want the milk of Christian theology, read the gospel of John. It’s filled with the absolutely clear message of the gospel. It’s a great place to start.
But here in Hebrews and other places Paul says, the maturing Christian will need meat.
And Hebrews has meat. All of true. But some of it is tough and chewy, some of it hard to get down.
Like verse 10, talking about Jesus it reads “God designated him to be a High Priest in the line of Melchizedek.”
What’s that about. Who is this Melchizedek? Other than Hebrews the bible tells us very little. He’s mentioned only two places.
First is in Genesis, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram to the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand”. And he gave him tithe from all.” -Genesis 14:18-20
And the second in Psalms 110:4 “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent: ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.”
That second verse is clearly being quoted in Hebrews, but neither verse tells us very much as to WHY Jesus would be compared to Melchizedek.
Now, I’ll tell you right now, I’m only going to spend a very small amount of time of this, and it is a meaty topic worthy of examining further when time allows.
But the details that Hebrews gives us about Melchizedek comes from the the Second Book of Enoch, a valuable Jewish text that is not included in the bible. In that book there is a whole section called the Exaltation of Melchizedek, tells how Melchizedek was born of a virgin, the wife of Nir, a brother of Noah. He came out from his mother after she had died and sat on the bed beside her corpse, already physically developed, clothed, speaking and blessing the Lord, and marked with the badge of priesthood. (thus he was a priest literally from birth to death).
Forty days later, (because he was without sin) Melchizedek was taken by the archangel Gabriel (or Michael in some manuscripts) to the Garden of Eden and was thus preserved from the flood without having to be in Noah’s Ark.
So he is later taken up to heaven by God while still in his body.
Whether this is an actual story of a real human, or a spiritualization (which many assert) we do see in the story, a foreshadowing of Jesus as Melchizedek is born of a virgin, a high priest his whole life, is rescued by angels, is sinless and thus not deserving of punishment, and ascends into heaven.
So certainly, this ancient story tells us of what Jesus really will do and be, thus Jesus’s life would be in the Order of Melchizedek.
And what Hebrews says more than anything with that is……Hey folks, Jesus is the real deal.
Even if this fanstasic stuff was true true about Melchizedek, Jesus is greater. Greater than angels, Greater than man, Greater than Human Wisdom, Greater than any human priest, even Melchizedek.
We could talk more about Melchizedek, but I find it very curious, that the writer of our text also says he could have elaborated more about this, but he doesn’t. For a reason.
11 There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand.
The KJV uses that phrase I mentioned earlier “”dull of hearing”
And it’s a big slam. He saying “You people don’t pay attention, and I’m gonna just skip it.”
Have you even felt that way? You’re talking about something important, and the one you are speaking to is paying no attention.
For the author here, he is clearly frustrated.
He’s saying “You guys are clearly stunted. Your not growing because you’re still on baby formula when you should be chewing into meatier stuff at this point.”
Talking about Melchizedek is like trying to discuss thermodynamics with a infant.
Yes, they understand HOT and COLD, and that’s good. It’s a only starting point, but there is a lot more to it.
He says “12 You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures.”
And it’s pretty frustrating when people want to camp at the foot of the mountian when there is a much more glorious view higher up. If you stop at the foot of the mountain, you will not be able to grow and mature.
You will have “arrested development” that is described in the dictionary as a “cessation of the development process at some stage prior to its normal completion.”
These believers were perpectually infants in Christ, always having to go back to the milk.
Which is why I’m sure the writer mentions Melchizedek, and then kind of takes it back.
It’s like he’s saying “Oh, Sorry, that’s too advanced for you”. It was a serious rebuke.
He wants them sink there teeth in and not just settle for the milk.
Not that the milk itself is bad. We all need it when we are born.
And our spiritual milk comes to us when we are reborn in Christ. We are filled with satisfaction and joy and wonder and peace and excitement. The milk gets us off to a good start. The milk is the essential gospel. Taking to the milk of salvation is how we come to Christ.
Much a mature Christ follower doesn’t just settle for the essential. They thirst to know Jesus better, and to take there and relationship to even deeper levels.
And Jesus says it himself “there is much more for you to know….”
And God does not want us stunted. He does not want us in “arrested development”.
He wants us to open our hearts in prayer.
Open the word in study and meditation.
Open our lives to the possibilities that God has for us, and step into them.
Open our minds to the next new things God has to teach us.
The race is not done, until we have taken our final breath. He is refining us, and molding us, and encouraging up to keep the climb, and don’t settle.
©2013 Timothy Henry