The adults at this huge feast of a meal always sat in the dining room. The babies still in high chairs sat next to the parents at the dining table. The rest of us kids stood by as our mothers fixed us a plate and then set us up at "The Kids' Table," a small table in the kitchen. Seems like we seldom talked much, and we certainly didn't play around much—both the table and the kitchen were too small for rambunctiousness if we wanted to stay out of trouble. We usually sat there and listened to the grown-ups talking and laughing in the next room as we ate. Sometimes we watched the backyard through the screen door right by the table, and always a cool December breeze blew in and chilled us and our food a little too quickly. But a kitchen in Central Florida, even in December, needed an open door or a tiny house with twenty people in it would have been far too warm. Some of the kids actually got up as soon as they could to go sit on the front porch and swing or play on the gray-painted planks, missing dessert entirely, but I have never skipped dessert in my life, if it was available.
We moved away when I was nine and after a couple of years traveling the long road back from Tampa to Orlando, we began keeping our own holiday traditions and meal at our house. Once in a while we returned for some special year, like the year Keith was introduced to the family. By then, the kids' table had added the front porch as its adjunct for the teenagers. Not many were still small enough for that tiny kitchen, and we could all fill our own plates. We were responsible for what we ate, how much, and when.
If you called the church a holiday celebration, who would be sitting in the dining room and who would be sitting at the Kids' Table? Paul seemed to think the Corinthians might be in the kitchen or perhaps in the high chairs with the babies. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready (1Cor 3:1-2). If you keep reading, their problems were jealousy, strife, and divisions which manifested themselves in a host of ways, as the remainder of the book shows.
But that isn't the only way we act like children. …So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph 4:14). Once again if you read the surrounding verses you find issues with unity and love as well as their lack of a foundation in the Word, which is why those gifts were given—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to provide them that foundation.
And of course, the classic passage: For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, you have need again that someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that partakes of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a baby (Heb 5:12-13).
If I wanted to make just one application from these passages and the metaphor I began with, it might be this: The children had to have their plates dipped out by their mothers. They not only couldn't reach across the big dining table, they did not know how to put a balanced meal on their plates. I remember thinking that Nannie's dressing and banana pudding would make one fine meal, thank you very much, but for some reason I also ended up with green beans and collard greens, too. How are we doing at dishing up our spiritual plates? Do we only eat what the elders' choose to dish out in the Bible classes of our assembly, picking at it like it was collard greens, or do we study on our own, making the time to dig deeply into the Word as if it really meant something to us? Do we ever attend the extra studies offered, or even go to a more-studied brother and ask to study with him? Do we have to be force-fed the Bread of Life?
We kids always felt a little resentment at being at the Kids' Table, waiting very impatiently until we were grown-up enough to move to the porch at least, if not the dining table. How about us? Are we ready to grow up and move on, or are we perfectly happy being spoon-fed?
But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14).