I’ve gone to the effort of preparing the most wonderful pot roast, complete with tomatoes and carrots and potatoes, a side of steamed veggies and a wonderful desert. You pour hours into your meal, it is Have you ever made your family a great meal? I mean a meal that legends are made of? When it is finally done, you are excited, and you call the family in to eat.
The family gathers, and your picky eater decides to sit there and stare at her plate while everyone else is partaking of this wonderful, nutritious meal.
The meal progresses, the youngest still has yet to take a bite. Of anything. You get frustrated because of all the work you put into it, plus you know that your child will be very hungry later if she doesn’t eat now. You know there is nothing wrong with the food, it is very nutritious and it is what your child needs to grow and be healthy. And so you begin to be angry. You try and gush over how wonderful dinner is. That doesn’t work so you start telling your sweetums how much they need to eat to not starve to death before they are permitted to have desert. She has resorted to glaring at you at this point. And now things really start to go downhill. You try every trick you can think of and insist on her taking at least one “no thank you bite” to prove to herself that she really may end up liking it.
And so, war is waged around the dinner table at a time that is supposed to be full of fellowship and peace. Eventually peace talks resume, and everyone feels like they have been wrung through the wringer and are the losers in the situation. Sweetums is now crying hysterically, you are furious and feel like a horrible parent. Sweetums wants nothing more than to escape the table and go live her life the way she pleases, you want to force her to see reason. And yet, all that anyone can agree on is that everyone is angry; stubbornness and pride have gotten in the way.
Later in the evening, after dinner is put away and the family has finally moved on to other pursuits, your youngest comes to you complaining that they are hungry and asks for food. Upon asking her why she wants to eat now, she says she is hungry. You point out that you made food available earlier and she chose not to eat it, so her being hungry is her fault. And yet she still blames you for it. You know you are not at fault, you made a great meal that most of the family partook of earlier (and then they jumped to help you with the cleanup), she chose not to eat when it was available. And yet you still feel like a horrible person because your child is hungry.
Does this sound familiar to you? This scenario is played out countless times in homes and churches across the land on a regular basis.
Wait, did I just say churches?
I did. Now before you think I’ve lost it, let me explain.
I’ve been in several churches in my life. And it never fails that some people start to complain that they aren’t being “spiritually fed” at the church. It is a slow start, some comments here, some comments there, and then it moves to grumbling and complaining. Next thing you hear, people complaining that they aren’t getting “spiritually fed” despite the fact the Bible is preached from the pulpit and is doctrinally sound. People start just not showing up for services as they are trying out new churches where they claim they can be fed spiritually. When asked what it is they need to be “fed spiritually” a lot of these people are hard pressed to answer. So they leave, and the cycle starts again after they have settled into a new church and the novelty of a new approach to services wears off. They feel something lacking and figure they aren’t being spiritually fed in this church either.
The starving congregants have a lot in common with my picky eater. Food is made available for both, yet both refuse to partake of it for one reason or another. And then they blame others for their hunger when it could have been avoided altogether if they would have partaken.
We live in a miraculous time in history. At what other time did we have available not only our local congregations for corporate worship, the Bible in our language, a large choice of Bible studies that have already been written, a myriad of books written for the edification of believers on all sorts of topics that pertain to the Christian life. We have blogs we can read, podcasts to listen to and sermons to watch online for our edification, to learn new truths and to help us study on our own.
Yet if we choose not to use what is available to us, we will starve. Even going to church on Sunday for a few hours will not be enough to sustain us, so we will feel the lack. We (collectively) end up blaming others for our lack, when really, isn’t it our fault?
Who is responsible for your consumption of the Bible? Is it the pastor at your church? Is it your elders? Or ultimately, is it you? Do you read your Bible on your own? Do you take the time to study it? Do you seek out and listen to sermons from all over the world (how great is technology now?), read books to help you in your walk? Are you involved in service? Are you an active participant in the buffet of all that is so easily available to help you in your faith, or are you being spiritually anorexic? Consuming just enough church to not die, but be very ill spiritually? What can you do about it? Changing churches is probably not the answer (disclaimer here, assuming of course your church isn’t teaching false doctrine or spreading lies, then it is time to find a new congregation that embraces truth.), changing yourself and your approach to your faith is.
So, how about it? Are you being spiritually anorexic, or are you partaking of the nutritious offerings so easily available to you?