We are talking about Christians who don't read their Bible, who don't pray, who don't worship outside of Sunday morning...and who don't want to. We are talking about those who claim to be thriving on spiritual milk and who keep us preaching the same basic truths over and over again because that is what they way they want to know.
And it's a strange proposition, isn't it? If you know that God is good, wouldn't you want to know the depth of His goodness? Once you claim to have experienced His love, wouldn't you naturally want more of it? What is it, then, that keeps these Christians from wanting more of God?
Quite simply, it's doubt.
Now, you might say that of course such a Christian doubts - they don't know enough about God to eliminate the kind of doubts that they have. But that's an oversimplified answer that doesn't capture the heart of what is happening in so many lives, even in our pews.
When you first come to know God, you get all of this excitement and energy, not at the goodness of Him but at the mere promise of the goodness of Him. You start to imagine all of the things that God says He is and what it would mean if He actually is all of those things. Or, really, any of those things. It starts to capture our sanctified imaginations what our lives could be like if God really is who He says He is, and we start to long in our souls for Him to be exactly that...and even more (as He promises to be even more than we ask or imagine).
But this little nagging doubt that holds us back persists. This little pester-y thing that wants us to not move so fast, to not get too invested in all of this. And it's hard to put our finger on it. It's hard to really name that thing that keeps holding us back from throwing ourselves in.
Here's what I think it is, from everything I know about faith and doubt from my own life and everything I have learned from talking with others in moments of agonizing want of faith:
I think many of us are afraid that we will learn everything there is to know about God...and not be satisfied.
I think we're afraid that we'll come to know everything there is to know about God, and that one thing that our particular soul seems to crave won't be met there. Or that we'll learn all that there is to learn and will still have a measure of disappointment in our souls. Or that we will be absolutely convinced of every little truth about God and still struggle through our lives.
I think we're afraid that if we answer our questions only to find that we still have more, we'll shipwreck our own faith. At least if we let the questions linger, we can tell ourselves that the answers are out there. At least if we don't even try to satisfy our souls, we can't be disappointed. At least if we live with questions, it doesn't seem silly to say that we have questions.
So we pull back. We stay shallow. We keep feeding ourselves the promises of the goodness of God without ever drawing near enough to actually taste it for ourselves. In case we find that perhaps we're still hungry. In case we discover that it's not quite our flavor. In case we discover something rotten under the surface.
In case we become disillusioned - and thus, disappointed - in God for no other reason than that we looked too hard and learned too much about Him.
No, it's better for us to stay on spiritual milk. To keep holding onto the same most basic truths that stir our sanctified imaginations. No, it's better for us to dream bigger than we ever dare hope. No, it's better for us not to open our Bible, not to pray, not to sing outside of Sunday mornings lest this whole enterprise come crashing down and leave us worse off than we were before we dared believe even the smallest of good things. God is "good enough" right now. Why push it?
That's why we are where we are. It's doubt, plain and simple. So...what now?