Pursue Intimacy with God in the Word (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Pursue Intimacy with God in the Word
1 Peter 2:1-3
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Verse 2 is stunning. God, through the Apostle Peter, commands us to have desires or yearnings, that at the moment, we may not have. It’s an imperative mood verb (the mood of command). And the word (epithumao) means “strong desires.”
So here I am, absorbed in the day to day worries and busyness of life. If we had an instrument to measure desires in my heart, we would find very little “desire for the goodness of God in the Word” at a particular given moment. Then comes the biblical command to me: “Joe, feel strong desires for God…for His Word. Long for this pure spiritual milk of experiencing God’s kindness to you in the Word.”
These verses destroy the misguided thought that says, “I’m religious, I love God; but let’s not go overboard. Let’s not make a big deal out of ‘desires’ or ‘intensity toward the Bible.’” God is calling us believers to not be content with lukewarmness toward Him and His Word.
To the one who has no desire to eat food (the food of the Word), he says, “Get hungry!” And in case we don’t get it, Peter says, “I’ll show you what I mean. Be desperate like a nursing infant at 3:00 a.m. who is screaming from the longing he feels for mommy’s milk.”
This verse is shocking because it’s a command to every Christian, NOT just to perform some external act, but to FEEL a certain way. It’s a command to have something going on in our hearts. I think, for most of us, our knee jerk reaction is, “How can you command me to have desire? I either have it or I don’t. My whole problem is that I don’t desire enough. And now you tell me to ‘Get desire.’ That’s like running into me as I exit a Mexican restaurant and you say, ‘let’s go to the Olive Garden and get something to eat.’ I say, ‘No thanks. I’m stuffed. I have no desire to eat food.’ To which you respond, ‘Desire food. Be hungry!’ ‘That makes no sense to me.’” That is how out of touch many of us believers feel this text is.
But God’s Word is not out of touch. It is we who are out of touch with the biblical world view. This passage is meant to guide us in our daily lives in at least two ways:
First: If we are the type that thinks, “Well, I’ve got my theology right. I can unfold with the best of them the doctrines of ‘justification by faith alone,’ ‘election,’ ‘the deity of Christ,’ etc. Therefore, I do this text. I know the Word. I’m just not the type to feel deep emotional yearning for intimacy with God through the Word.” But verse 3 destroys that excuse; it makes it clear what he means by desiring the milk of the Word: It is “because you have tasted the kindness (to you personally) of the Lord.” It is one thing to know that honey is sweet; it is another thing to taste and experience for yourself the sweetness of honey (Psalm 19, Jonathan Edwards and John Piper). The logic of the passage, reaching back to 1:22, goes like this,
Because you have tasted of the kindness of the Lord to you personally by being born again and sustained by the ‘Word of God’, therefore, go on longing, craving, tasting of that pure spiritual milk.
There is always to be this two-fold dynamic going on in the Christian’s life:
1. Interacting with the content of scripture.
2. Prayerfully experiencing the goodness of God to you in the Word.
Second: The symptom of not being hungry is a sign, not that we are stuffed with the goodness of God’s word, but that we are hard-hearted toward the God of the Word. For God to command us to desire precisely when we don’t desire is the biblical worldview. That’s how our Christian life began. One moment we had no desire to submit to God’s Word (the Gospel); then we had the desire to embrace his saving Word. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 Paul writes,
We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called [there’s the act of God in producing in us “desire”], both Jews and Greeks, Christ [to them is] the power of God and the wisdom of God.
That’s the new covenant. God gives not only the command, but the ability to obey. That’s why the command is our hope and not a discouragement. Just as crucial as praying for desire as you read the Word is trusting that God is the one who gives the hunger.
So believer, we are called to make the flow of this text our daily ambition. “Because you have tasted the kindness of the Lord to you personally in the Word, therefore go on craving and tasting of that pure spiritual milk.”
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