When I was young, I'd stop by our local donut shop and get a half-dozen donuts, which I scarfed down before dinner. Ah, I still remember the taste and satisfaction of the moment! When dinner time came I told my mom, "I'm not hungry." Sound familiar?
After eating all those donuts, I wasn't too interested in vegetables.
I'm not hungry
As a parent of my own children, I've seen something similar play out in our home. As a pastor, I've also seen it.
Most pastors have heard the familiar complaint, "Pastor, I'm not getting fed anymore."
When I was a young pastor I took it personally. Not any more. What changed?
I began to see past the complaint to the real problem. Sometimes the person was discontent with their own life. In some cases it was a problem with the person's appetite. What they meant was, "I'm not hungry... for what you're serving up."
People too often have an appetite for what I call spiritual junk food. They've developed a diet of pop-theology and shallow Bible talk. I've addressed this before, so I won't get into that here.
"I'm not hungry... for what you're serving up."
Some people counter a fast-food diet and lack of exercise with supplements. The vitamin and supplement industry is huge. Vegetables and fruits? Who needs them when you can take a capsule or powder formula to get the same nutrients?
My friend and fitness coach spent thousands of dollars on supplements, until he realized whole foods, fasting, and exercise insured better health for a lot less money.
I think it's the same with spiritual truth.
If a person read (or listened to) the Bible on a daily basis (Acts 17:11), relied on God's Spirit for understanding (1 John 2:27), and did some fasting—they'd be spiritually healthy.
Is it that simple? Yes!
We don't need to hear the latest message from the most popular teachers, we need to feed upon God's Word itself. Jesus indicates this in His famous teaching in John 6, when He says, "I am the Bread of Life" (John 6:48-51).
Is it that simple? Yes, I believe it is.
In our first year in the Philippines, Susan and I were told by a few missionaries, "We don't get fed by the national pastors." Susan's thoughts on it were, "If they have their Bibles and the Spirit of God, why can't they get fed?
Are you relying on others to feed you spiritual truth?
Physical or digital?
There is something to be said for reading a physical Bible. You know, the kind with printed words on paper.
I know, it's the digital age. I have Bible programs on my phone, tablet, and laptop and use them often. But I still rely on a Bible and notebook when studying.
This post stated out as a rough draft in my notebook. I looked up references by thumbing through my Bible. Amazing how that still works so well!
A common Bible text for us teacher-types is 2 Timothy 2:15. The NIV uses the wording, "...who correctly handles the word of truth." The original language (Greek) is literally cutting straight, and is translated rightly dividing in the KJV, and handling aright in the Revised Version.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)
There's something about handling God's Word in a physical way that goes beyond the tangible. It involves me in a more complete way— in a physical, mental, and spiritual sense.
But hey, if digital media is your thing, that's fine. But, do you take the time to read, think, and listen to what God's Spirit speaks to you, as you scroll through the Scripture?
So, what's the point?
When we look to others to feed us, we will remain like infants (Heb 5:12-14). Just as with mothers and their babies, we're relying on someone else to chew or grind up the food to a soft, near-liquid state to consume.
If that's what you prefer, don't expect much in the way of spiritual growth. It may keep you alive, but you won't grow up and mature as God intends (Eph 4:11-15).
When we look to others to feed us, we will remain like infants
A little junk food once in a while won't hurt, but a steady diet of it is unhealthy. The choice is yours, of course.
A simple challenge
At the beginning of one year, I challenged people in the church to read one Bible verse a day, or even a week. Not much of a challenge, but it can make a world of difference in anyone's life.
Think you could handle reading a Bible verse a day? I'm sure you could. Why not try it out?
Just pick one verse, read it, think on it, and consider it throughout the day.
Here's some resources—
Need help finding a verse? There's plenty of resources available online or on your phone.
The Bible app YouVersion has a daily Bible verse each time you open the app.