Last week I wrote about realizing that if I want to be passionate, if I want to burn for Jesus, and be on fire for God, that I need to feed the fire. A fire cannot be sustained without regular fuel. It was one of those A-ha/Duh! moments. I can’t believe I had never really thought about my relationship with God like that before.
But just that realization alone is not enough. After all, you can’t throw just anything into a woodstove and expect to get heat from it. The metaphor starts to break down at this point, though, so I’d like to set it aside and talk about spiritual food.
I recently opened up the book of Hebrews again, and the passage about spiritual milk and meat hit me anew:
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:12-14
I was shocked when I read beyond those few verses to find out what the author (probably Paul) considered what spiritual milk was.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. – Hebrews 6:1-2
All these years I was wrong, calling something milk that was not that at all.
Will you allow me to be blunt?
We, the North American church, are not just immature; we are addicted to spiritual junk food.
You see, milk is nourishing. When an infant receives milk he grows as he should, craving more of that goodness and eventually moving onto solid food. Junk food, on the other hand, tantalizes our tastes buds, but isn’t nourishing. It does not support development, or lead us to want more of God as we grow; it makes us crave more of itself. Eventually it makes us sick.
I am sad to say that we have been duped into believing an imposter, just like the “healthy” processed food at the grocery store. Spiritual junk food is the stuff that makes us feel good – but doesn’t really change us. It is the happy story, the inspirational song, the movie with the moral ending. It has a form of godliness, but denies it’s power.
It’s a sad reality that many Christians spend their entire lives wandering around a spiritual wilderness, malnourished, thirsting, and consuming rubbish because they have never feasted on the soul-consoling, heart-transforming, zeal-engendering truth… – Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Found in Him
That’s the truth I really want, but how to figure out what’s good for us?
In this culture, where information abounds, discernment is needed more than ever. Do not take this lightly, our very souls are at stake. If we fill ourselves up with junk food, we will never have the strength to withstand a trial – our malnourished spirits will crumble at the slightest difficulty – but for the grace of God.
If I want to really nourish my faith I need to start filling up on true milk and meat – real food, not “food like substances”. And how will I know what is what? Obviously the Bible is the best source, but what about the book, the blog, and all the other hundreds of sources of so-called “spiritual encouragement”?
I can’t make this complicated, so how about two simple rules:
Is the message true to the Gospel? Does it keep the focus on Christ’s work or on what we need to do? Does it elevate an “ism” over the good news?
Does it fill me with desire to know God more, to pray, to open the Bible, to love others? Or do I just want to consume more of “it”? True, real food, will cause me to crave the purest source of spiritual food – junk food just feeds the addiction.
How shocked I am when I realize how much of my intake does not pass the test.
Father, give me an appetite for food that truly satisfies, for water that truly quenches my thirst – for you alone. Deep in my soul I know that apart from you I have no good thing. Forgive me for falling for the imposters. Give me the discernment of your spirit, that I might worship you alone.