Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. --Psalm 86:11

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why no hunger?

Last April, I wrote a post exploring why we have a generation of Christians who are satisfied being spoon-fed with spiritual baby food. Those thoughts developed in discussion with my students, who shared their perspectives on the question. One reason we found was that the church serves up the spiritual equivalent of smashed peas and smoothies instead of teaching believers how to butcher a cow, prepare a meal and savor a well-seasoned steak. But the church is not solely responsible: many are content to live on a diet of spiritual junk food (or at least insubstantial snack food) and have not acquired a taste or an appetite for hearty meat-and-potatoes meals. This post further explores the lack of hunger for healthy food. Why are the kitchens and dining rooms empty while busy believers live off Big Macs and Blizzards?
Last week, in my small class of six insightful students, we boiled down the issue. I asked them, “Why aren’t people hungry [for biblical truth]?” One thoughtful students said slowly and with great conviction, “Here’s the answer . . . people are not hungry . . . because they don’t want to be.” This may sound extremely obvious, but I thought it was terribly insightful. It gets to the heart of things. It changes the question from “Why aren’t we hungry?” to “Why don’t we want to be hungry?” Here are some answers we discussed to that question:
  • We don’t understand the Bible. If we’re honest, we must admit that the Bible is a hard book. When we don’t understand it, it turns us off.
  • We don’t want to feed ourselves, or we don’t know how. We lack the skills or discipline or motivation to diligently study so we can understand.
  • We don’t want to change, or be challenged. The Bible calls for radical obedience! This gospel will not allow us to remain us comfortable; it requires radical repentance from our idolatry and radical submission to Jesus as Lord.
  • We prefer what’s easy. We want to sustain our mediocrity, to keep living in the status quo, whether it works or not, because it’s easy and painless.
  • We hunger for other things. Sometimes these may be good things, sometimes bad or worthless things. These other pursuits and distractions crowd out the seed of God’s word (Luke 8:14). We crave unhealthy food.
  • We’d rather goof off. We prefer silly to serious. We’d rather play than persevere.
  • We don’t realize that we cannot feed our need. In a culture that urges us to tap into our own spiritual resources, we don’t recognize that we cannot nourish ourselves. Our food must come from outside ourselves. Our hunger for God must be fed by revelation. We must feast on the Bread of Life and the Word of God.
So we have come full circle. Our deepest questions and needs cry for divine revelation, but we often remain content with substitutes that that do not truly satisfy. The Sons of Korah express the attitude we must cultivate: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God” (Psalm 42:1-2)?
What experiences, attitudes or circumstances create hunger in our souls?  How can we recover a hunger and thirst for God that will drive us to crave his life-giving revelation?

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