Today’s message about spiritual nourishment combines two weeks’ lectionary readings (John 6:24-35, 41-51). The key verse is this: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ “ (John 6:35).
The setting for our message is when Jesus fed a crowd which then tried to force him to become their ruler. Apparently, the people wanted a man who could provide free meals. Jesus refused the crowd because his goal wasn’t to enter politics or to create a food pantry. To escape harassment, Jesus and his closest followers fled across the Sea of Galilee and found temporary respite in Jesus’ headquarters of Capernaum. Undaunted, the insatiable, forceful crowd sailed to pester Jesus.
The mob seeking Jesus was drawn to him because of their appetite. Free & easy food motivated people as they sought more of that delicious bread Jesus provided. Jesus confronted his foodie fans by cautioning them against preoccupation with perishable bread (the kind that only feeds the belly). Jesus came to give the bread of life—soul food. Everyone needs physical food to stay alive but human souls also need nourishment beyond whole wheat or pumpernickel.
Physical necessities can often overrun subtle spiritual needs. One the one hand, if you don’t eat or drink you’ll weaken and eventually die from dehydration or starvation. On the other hand, if you don’t pray, don’t feed your relationship with God, and don’t engage other meaningful spiritual activities, your soul will languish even if your physical body is fine. Every day life may seem to be going okay with no apparent problems, but underneath your spirit yearns for nourishment. If you desire a life of holistic wellbeing then feed your soul rather than taking it for granted. Spiritual deprivation may not kill you as quickly as the absence of food and water, but you’ll nonetheless wither from the inside out.
Are you getting fed spiritually? Do you have the necessary soul nutrients to thrive? These are relevant questions since there’s much at stake for your wellbeing. Jesus emphasized the beauty of turning to God for spiritual food. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). There’s more to spiritual life than sitting passively in a church pew. You need to be an engaged participant to achieve spiritual health. Soul satisfaction is more than a spectator sport. Develop the personal discipline and mind management that will help you grow spiritually and in every other helpful way.
Attaining spiritual health isn’t easy and it may require experimentation. You might try a combination of spiritual disciplines such as talking with God, reading religious texts, and participating in a faith study. Practice daily the wonderful moments when you center yourself and get a boost from quality time with the Almighty. Most of all, receiving and sharing love and truth opens a vital connection between you and divine promises and possibilities. Each day you face choices that can be managed by your attitude and behavior. You can demonstrate your spiritual health when you think and act in a way that helps you connect with God.
Grow strong in the Lord and in the power of divine might. I want to partner with you as we build a stronger church, one person at a time. Achieving faith strength requires a nutritious spiritual diet. Feeding your spirit is a continual process, not a “once and done” exercise. Seek empowerment from heaven. Hunger and thirst for more than what pleases your body. The greatest delicacy you’ll savor is heavenly bread, the source of wonderful blessings for which no earthly diet can substitute. –Reverend Hoxey