It seems we are prone to compartmentalize our various appetites in life and relegate the spiritual kind to an optional status. As long as people are eating and drinking, we aren’t alarmed if they don’t seem to be seeking God. Even if we believe it is important that they know God, we are willing to give them time and are reluctant to raise serious concerns. But if they pursue God, and become so obsessed with the journey they enter a season of fasting or some other intense form of spiritual discipline, we get nervous. We don’t want to stand by and watch people we care about go off the religious deep end.
Before you label me a nut, I must tell you I am not prone to extremes in spiritual disciplines. I would be concerned about someone engaged in an open-ended fast with no clear motivation or objective. My point is merely that we have established priorities, spoken or unspoken, and making sure our spiritual lives don’t die on the vine isn’t always at the top of the list. I propose it should be.
This doesn’t mean our physical life isn’t vitally important, or that we should disregard the physical in order to attain the spiritual. If God didn’t care about our physical bodies and have a purpose for them He might have created us in a disembodied state. Instead, He chose to bring us into the world through a physical process and endow us with gifts and aptitudes to manage the rest of creation.
Still, as the Bible reminds us, we are all going to die physically and our bodies return to the earth. Our souls, on the other hand, will survive, and the spiritual choices we make while we are on earth will determine whether we are in God’s presence for eternity or forever separated from Him in hell. Once when Jesus was preparing His disciples to share His kingdom with a hostile world He said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The temporary suffering inflicted on our human bodies is nothing compared to the tragedy of losing our souls.
Why am I spending so much time talking about the need for a spiritual appetite instead of focusing on the things that fulfill us? After all, if we learn how fulfilling the feast of righteousness can be won’t our hunger and thirst increase? I am aware we are more willing to eat and drink when our favorite foods and beverages are placed before us. The only problem is, in our spiritual walk, if what God has put before us is unappealing at the time, we might turn up our nose and walk away. I am convinced we must hunger and thirst because we are sure we will die spiritually if we don’t, and ultimately die a second death in eternity. When our spiritual appetite wanes we should sound the alarm, because we know if we don’t, we will die.