by Kimberly Davidson
There’s nourishing food and there’s junk food. Everyone knows that junk food has no nutritional value but we eat it anyway. We even crave junk food! The same holds true of spiritual food. There’s nourishing spiritual food, yet, we’re often attracted to the spiritual junk food—all the trendy religious things we do to make us look like we’re holy and true followers of Christ.
Sadly, few Christians ever experience the richness of the Christian life because they choose to settle for an incomplete diet and less fulfilling life. They settle for spiritual junk food. In this culture appearance, status, success, and wealth are very important. The message our society gives us is to pour all our emotions and energy into getting what we perceive we need to be successful or rich or thin. Consequently, we ask God to bless these requests and try to make him conform to our world. We choose to use God to suit our own purposes like he’s some genie in a bottle.
The media machine has done a super job of getting us all to believe “something” is missing and only “more” of what they offer will satisfy us. We devour the bait just like Adam and Eve did. Satan convinced them God was holding out on them and they deserved “more.” Satan is in the business of distracting us with cheap imitations of love, power, success, achievement, and the like. In our quest, more often than not, we reject God’s spiritual food to meet our own needs and desires. Christian psychologists agree we all have God-given needs for love, acceptance and purpose. Most of us will go to virtually any lengths to meet those needs…and leave God out of the equation.
French philosopher of social science, Dr. Rene Girard, developed the idea of mimesis or mimetic desires. According to Dr. Girard, the mimetic desire is motivated by an inner sense that “something” is missing. His theory is that our desires do not come solely from ourselves; rather, they are inspired by the desires of others—by what other people want, what they have, what they do and what they look like. It is so strong that people unknowinglystuff themselves with fragmented identities of others because deep inside they feel “something” is missing in their own life. James 4:2 says, “You want something but don't get it.” That mimetic desire describes our hunger for wholeness.
When our deep needs are ignored the potential for any distressful behavior springs up because it distracts us from hurtful and negative feelings. In order to soothe our soul hole we take a couple bites of spiritual junk food. We’ll go to church on Sundays. We’ll read about God. We’ll cite Scriptures that box God into our world. We’ll volunteer a few hours every month and tithe a couple times a year. We’ll listen to Christian music on our way home from work. Though good, these are shallow commitments that make us feel good and spiritual, but they are not the type of food that provide adequate nutrition for spiritual growth and transformation. Sadly, many Christians do not know how to pick God’s voice out of the crowd because there is no deep and meaningful relationship with him, nor is there a desire for a real spiritual makeover.
George Barna, founder of the Barna Group, a leading research firm that specializes in faith-related surveys, stated in his book, Maximum Faith states “Millions of people misunderstand what it takes to be transformed. It is common to mistakenly assume that possessing appropriate beliefs or engaging in laudable actions constitutes evidence of transformation. But you cannot become transformed solely (or mostly) by being active in a church or participating in a litany of religious rituals. Memorizing the entire Bible would be impressive and might be helpful, but by itself that will not transform you.”
A drowning boy struggled to survive in the water as his mother stood watch gripped with fright and grief. A well-built man walked up seemingly indifferent to the boy's fate. The terrified mother appealed to him to save her boy. But he made no move. Losing strength, the boy’s thrashing began to decline. He rose to the surface, weak and helpless. Then the man leaped into the river and brought the boy in safely to the shore.
"Why didn’t you go after my son sooner?" cried the mother. "Madam, I could not save your boy as long as he struggled. He would have dragged us both to certain death. But when he grew weak, and ceased to struggle, then it was easy to save him."
It is no secret that people who accumulate money or material possessions; or those who are admired or famous admit those achievements do not satisfy completely. Those things don’t fill their soul hole. Something is indeed missing. Scripture says that God satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with good (Psalm 107:9). Far too many wait until they are drowning, and near death, before they are willing to see life and themselves through God’s eyes.
Jesus learned that it is "not by might, nor by power" (Zechariah 4:6) but by the Spirit of God that success is secured. He lived in complete submission to God and the Scriptures. Your kingdom come! He didn't take up a sword or wave his banner. He carried a cross, which was the will of his Father. He didn't dash around trying to get more done and help everybody. Your will be done!
After reading the Gospels, a picture merges of the close communication Jesus had with the Father. God, the Father was available, supportive and affirming. The Son sought his Father’s approval, trusted him instinctively, and knew he could count on him to meet his deep needs. While on earth, Jesus longed for his Father’s touch. He cried at his Father’s feet, worshipped him, enjoyed him and pleaded for people’s souls. When the crowd mocked him and scoffed, “Heal yourself,” Jesus did not respond. He did not view himself as ever able to do anything apart from his Father. His responses were based solely on what the Father desired.
Jesus offers us real spiritual food—true nourishment—holiness. Holiness means being set apart by God for an exceptional life of freedom and joy if we simply choose to live for him and allow him to live through us. Jesus is our teacher and role model. God also gives us the Holy Spirit as a counselor. His will is that we would achieve greatness while on earth. In other words, the best is yet to come—if we are willing to ingest the proper food and let God transform us his way. Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, when we ingest powerful spiritual food from our heavenly Father we are transformed, renewed and made whole.
Today God is speaking to us through the Holy Bible. God gives us a personal self-revelation of himself—God the father, Son and Holy Spirit. The message of the gospel is that God has made himself known—not vaguely—but specifically in words of his choice to his chosen people. Do we choose to listen—to respond? Do we choose to open the Scriptures daily to hear from God? Or do we let the busyness of our hectic lives take priority? Without question, it can be a challenge to find daily time to be alone with God. It is our pride, with a little help from the devil that says we can come to know God without his opening up his Word and ingesting pure spiritual food.
Today God is asking each one of us to eat from his hand so we can hear him. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).”Although written centuries ago, the Bible is still fresh and relevant. The most important aspect of Bible study is consistency. I’ve found it is better to study little every day than to try to absorb a lot randomly. I find I get more out of God’s Word if I read less, but chew on what I read. I ask, “What is God saying in this verse? Is this applicable to me? How is it? Lord, speak to me!”
Our frustrations and afflictions in life are likely to diminish in direct proportion to the degree of God-centered transformation we experience on a daily basis. I encourage you to make a commitment to give God some of your precious time so he may feed you pure spiritual food. Don’t think of it as adding one more thing to your schedule. Think of it as taking time to refuel your body, mind and soul. Throwing out the spiritual junk food is the power behind transformation and life change.
George Barna, Maximum Faith, 14
See Luke 4:21, Mark 14:49, John 19:28
See Matthew 3:17, 26:53; John 5:30, 8:38, 15:15; 16:32b; Hebrews 5;8