From yesterday – We live in a paradoxical time in church ministry. There is a place for excellence because the people we are trying to reach for Christ are picky eaters. It is important that we humble ourselves as believers and not grow frustrated with those whose view of righteousness has been skewed by the Deceiver. The table we set in worship and in any other expression of our faith will influence whether or not those who don’t know the Lord bother to come back for another helping. But in this, we who know there is more must keep our perspectives. The moment we begin to put our product over God’s presence and the spiritual hunger and thirst that draws others to Him, is the moment we strip our message of its nutritional value.
This paradox reveals an ironic conflict in the quest for spiritual fulfillment. We will not pursue God with passion unless we are truly hungry and thirsty, but our hearty appetite can also lure us into sinful practices or the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees. When we are starved, it all looks good and we must find a way to center our hearts God.
The right appetite leads to lasting fulfillment
I am old enough to remember a time when food packages didn’t have nutrition labels. Something called the “Fair Packaging and Labeling Act” came along in 1965 and now we have immediate access to calorie, fat and sodium counts. Gone are the days when we stuff anything in our mouths just because we are hungry. We want to be full, but we also want to be healthy.
Unfortunately, everything our soul consumes isn’t labeled. This requires a greater sense of responsibility on our part as we navigate a toxic world. We know we want to avoid selfish ambition and bitter envy because they destroy our relationships and leave us emptier than before. We also want to reject self-righteousness because it fools us into thinking we are filled, even as we starve to death. But where do we go for the meal God has prepared, and how do we make sure we feast on and reflect 100% Jesus?
The answer to this question might seem over-simplistic, but it is rooted in the old adage, “you are what you eat.” Since we don’t always have time to scrutinize every decision in our lives, we adopt broad principles that help us make choices that lead to spiritual fulfillment. In the case of righteousness, if we want to reflect Jesus, we must eat and drink Jesus. Does this sound weird?
It seemed downright bizarre to some people Jesus was addressing in the city of Capernaum. They followed Him after His feeding of the five thousand and believed Him to be the prophet who was “to come into the world” (John 6:14). Then Jesus said something so strange it must have left His audience grimacing and shaking their heads in disbelief: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6:55-56). We are told, from that time on many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following Him. Can you blame them? Who wants to follow a nut?
But in reality, Jesus was merely trying to show His disciples the organic nature of faith. You don’t find God by piling on human additives or using spiritual pursuits as a vehicle to feed your ego. Instead, you arrive at the place God wants you to be by feeding on His Son. The label of selfishness and self-righteousness has been replaced with a simple category: “Jesus – 100%”.