My wife and I were eating at a local restaurant with some friends and found ourselves amused watching another couple of eating their meal together. They would each take a bite from their own plate and then reach over and take a bite from the other ones plate. It appeared that just could not decide what plate to eat from. This happened until both their plates were empty.
Observing them eat that way reminded me of myself when I first committed my life to Christ. You may ask how did watching this couple eat off each other’s plate remind you of that. Well, we can often make this common mistake of attempting to find our nourishment from someone else or something else. We can also be ignorant of our spiritual hunger or how it can be deeply satisfied. Spiritual hunger unsatisfied can feel different to different people. It could be a deep sense of emptiness; feeling like there is no meaning or significance to life, feeling lost or like something is missing, being on edge, a gnawing feeling, or a very deep sobbing, an unquenchable inner thirst, a longing from the very center of your soul. We can try to stuff ourselves with spiritual substitutes, things that look satisfying, but turn sour within. Most of the time we are aware of this gnawing spiritual hunger, but are unaware of how to deeply satisfy it. There is pain and discomfort, so we look to soothe the pain. Some of us (even Christians) look to other things to placate the void or the pain with drugs, alcohol, destructive habits, overworking, eating disorders, sex, pornography, excessive TV. watching, and the list goes on and on.
FEEDING FROM ANOTHER’S PLATE
When I was a new Christian new and spiritually immature I noticed this new hunger that I couldn’t ignore. It seemed to demand to be fed and I would attempt to satisfy it by purchasing the “latest and greatest” spiritual teaching series that promised to change my life, go to any teaching or worship conference that was offered in my area. I would faithfully attend anything offered to the Christian community, but never found myself completely satisfied. I thought that it was due to some “hidden sin in my life” or lack of repentance or perhaps I was not as worthy or spiritual as others. Spiritual hunger is a sign of good spiritual health, but never being satisfied suggests that something is very wrong and dysfunctional. I could not figure out why my hunger was never satisfied. Simply put –the answer was that I was spiritually malnourished and I never was feeding from wholesome food. It took me awhile to figure where the real nourishment was.
DEATH FROM MALNOURISHMENT
Anything alive must be nourished or it will eventually die. Our hunger, natural and spiritual, must be acted upon or it will fade away. We eat food in the natural every day; our need for spiritual food must also taken daily as well. The Holy Spirit draws us into a deeper relationship with the Lord. It’s an invitation to feast on the things that truly satisfy the heart, the deep inner core of our human nature. He stirs a hunger and an awareness of our need so that we come to Him to be filled. The Lord wants to feed our souls, our inner man, to satisfy our hearts deepest cravings, to give us peace and confidence and strength. In the natural, we drink and eat every day, not just on Sunday’s. Our body needs continual nourishment: likewise, so does our spiritual body. John Piper wrote “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with the small things, and there is no room for the great.”
We have to hear from the Lord ourselves, we can’t get our nourishment from someone’s else’s experience. It is too easy for Christians to eat off someone else’s plate. It may work in a restaurant (just be careful which plate you chose from) but not in the spiritual world. We cannot grow in our relationship with the Lord and find our needed nourishment through just preaching only, or tuning in to the latest worship song on the radio or a listening to a Christian music CD or from what some else tells us about the Lord. This is not to say those things don’t have value and can’t help us into grow and give us wisdom, but they should not be confused for wholesome feeding. These things are like spiritual snacks. They can provide temporary nourishment, (like healthy snack food)—but should not to take the place of nourishing wholesome spiritual food that we can all feast upon.
THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
We may have “head knowledge” but have not yet developed “heart knowledge”. We cannot survive and we will eventually die if we are living in someone else’s revelation or relationship. In any relationship, we get to know the person we are in fellowship with. Fellowship builds trust. It is difficult to trust someone beyond the extent of how well you know him or her. There is not relationship without any fellowship. Don’t confuse fellowship with church attendance, tithing, and an occasional prayer over meals, etc. It’s not even close to the same thing!
Read how the Samaritans responded to Jesus when they first heard the woman’s story after she spoke with the Lord at the water well. They believed the Lord even more after they found out for themselves who He was and what He said to them. We need to do the same as the Samaritans did. “Now many of the Samaritans of that town believed in Jesus because the woman had testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of what he said. They kept telling the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, because now we have heard him ourselves, and we know that he really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42)
ONLY THE LORD CAN SATISFY SPIRITUAL HUNGER
“If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink”. (John 3:7)
“Taste and see that the Lord is good”. (Psalms 34:8)
“As I hungered and searched the Lord delivered what He promised to all of us. “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Jesus said to them “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst”. (John 6:35)
When we strive for more knowledge of Christ and desire to have His way working in and through us we are exhibiting a healthy spiritual hunger that is well nourished. Only a well-nourished Body of Christ will be effective to do battle, win others, and finish the work set before us. When we are really hungry or thirsty, we are desperate to eat or drink, and nothing else matters. We can think of nothing else. We as Christians need to be that desperate to drink in God’s Word and to personally hear His voice and obey God like nothing else matters! Where does the urging of His Spirit fall within the list of your priorities in your life?
You would never consider pushing the plate away from you at Heavens Banquet Table promised to His children at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Rev 19) Likewise… don’t push the Lords nourishment away from you as He offers all you ever need to be healthy and whole, full and completely satisfied.