"To survive on our journey, to have the strength to go through the barren places of life, those places where we are alone - feeling alone because of separation from loved ones, because of damages to relationships, because of divorce, because of illness, or because of death - we need to eat the food that God has prepared for us. It is not the food that fills our stomach, but a food of real purity, with no other infestations; we know it is the bread of life that comes from Jesus." Pastor Randy O'Donnell
At our "Worship Matters" discussion following second service today, one topic of conversation was the use of the word "need". Pastor Randy had it in the original manuscript for his sermon, yet he chose to use another word that was more inviting -- and less imperative. Many people in the room said they didn't really like to be told what they "need" to do. It smacks of an external directive which is way too close to the word "should" which connotes judgement and blame (hence the cliche: don't "should" upon yourself).
For some reason that discussion is really staying with me this evening. Here is where my head is going:
I think of when my father-in-law, John, was recovering from open heart surgery. He had no appetite for food. I recall nurses, attendants and most of all his wife saying: John, you need to eat! I remember the celebration around the room when he picked up a spoonful of ice cream and looked around at those present and said: yummmm. His eating indicted the hope for a return to life (which did happen, for he lived many vigorous years following that surgery). Up until the moment when he accepted the food willingly, he was force fed with tubes. He was surviving but he was not thriving.
Stay with me.
We DO NEED to feed upon the living bread of God in Christ. If we do not feed in this way, we will not be equipped for the journey of discipleship.
We may be able to survive with all sorts of other things or means of satisfaction that "feed" some hunger. Our emotions may be satisfied by quality human relationships. Our minds may be satisfied with completing sudoku or watching the Discovery Channel. Our bodies may be satisfied (for a while) by a wonderful meal or an exhilarating physical experience. But survival doesn't guarantee spirits that THRIVE.
Only the spiritual nourishment of being in and with Christ will feed the regions of heart, mind, body and soul that are required (and therefore exhausted) as we step out in Discipleship. As we live in Christ, we thrive, so that others may also have abundant life.
I don't know about you, but I NEED to receive the Bread of Life!