A sound piece of health advice is, “Never grocery shop when you’re hungry.” If we walk through the aisles of the store hungry, decadent things catch our eye, from cookies to fried chicken. When not hungry, we still like these things, but we’re strong enough to resist loading our shopping cart with them. When hungry, that resistance is weakened and we buy these unhealthy foods. As a Christian, if we haven’t had God’s spiritual food, we’re bound to make poor choices in the endless aisles of our unhealthy world.
In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” We know from John 4:34, he’s talking about spiritual food, as he explains, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” By comparing himself to food and drink, Jesus is comparing himself to an essential of life. Starving people get weak, tired, and make poor decisions. The same is true of spiritual starvation. Jesus knows this and warns, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (v. 53-54)
If there’s true food and drink, there must be false food and drink, right? Again Jesus advises us, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” (v. 27) This world is a supermarket of false food and drink; we can dine on endless entertainment and distraction, indulge on loving ourselves more and more, and even feed on the idea that being a good person is enough. What do all these “foods” have in common? They all leave us hungry afterwards. Way back in Isaiah, God told us, “Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (55:2) If God’s Word isn’t true and the world’s food is so satisfying, those which have obtained the most – actors, musicians, and athletes – would be the happiest, most satisfied people in the world. We all know that’s not true!
Spiritual malnourishment leads to bad decisions: we get into a wrong relationship, make an unethical decision to make or save money, or lash out at someone we love. To avoid these pitfalls, we need Christ’s food, which is nourishing and satisfying. “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him…” (Colossians 2:9-10) When Jesus feeds you, there’s no room for the unhealthy, unsatisfying food of the world. Are you hungry for it?