This is the final installment in the Why We Eat series! For Parts 1-3, see here and here and here.
This reflection is inspired by 1 Peter 2: 2-3.
Today we talk about Necessity.
Living in modern western society I am blessed with an abundance of provision. Compared to the rest of the world I live extremely comfortably. My needs and wants are met on a daily basis. Awareness of this fact does little to help me relate with the many living around the world in extreme poverty. The number of individuals with little to no food to eat compared to those of us who always have enough food is horrifying. Due to this unfair reality, I cannot fully understand what it means to be literally starving.
The word “starving,” used in the way that it is supposed to be used, describes, to me, one of the worst physical challenges. I cannot imagine going without food for days, weeks or months. I have heard of various accounts of people who have endured such hardships and the testimonials are painful in description alone. I pray that with each passing day we can see more people fed and fewer people dying of hunger, although the obstacles to this miraculous feeding of the millions remains stubborn and strong.
Although I cannot fully empathize with someone who has experienced hunger to this degree, and not to trivialize hunger in any way, I do know what it feels like to be hungry. I do know what it feels like when your stomach begins to alert you that food is needed. In this moment, it is difficult to think of much else. At first, hunger is the deep pains of the abdomen. Next, hunger inflicts headaches, weakness and perhaps dizziness. The search for sustenance becomes a top priority, distracting you from any other task. This is a state of physical emergency that is impossible not to acknowledge.
This prompts the question: do I really hunger for God? Do I need God like I would need food in this situation? Do I feel weak and without strength in his absence? These questions can be humbling and convicting but are, nonetheless, vital to a Christian life of honesty and integrity. Living a Christian life is not intermittent snacking out of boredom. Neither is it one where we force feed out of respect for a host. In the life of a disciple of Jesus, existence without him means death and existence with him means life. It is that extreme.
There is a reason that Jesus compared himself to bread. To the ancient world, bread meant more than fulfilling carbohydrates and plentiful calories as it does to the bread-loving world of today. Bread, to the world that Jesus preached, symbolized “life.” At the feeding of the 5000, Jesus says these words:
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jesus is telling us that to take part in a relationship with him is to be ultimately and completely satisfied. To eat of this bread Jesus describes means to never feel in need and to never want to go without. This understanding of the Gospel of Jesus leaves no room for Christianity lived on the foundation of boredom or politeness. God does not want us to come to his altar just because.
“Just because” is void of thought, intention, and meaning. God put all of those into his creation, and He knows what He desires. God desires us. Quite simply, he desires that we desire him. True worship comes when that desire is met and reciprocated, when we feel our hunger for Him and Him alone.