“Baptists can’t meet unless they eat!” I’ve heard that often, and it really seems to be true. We are a people of fellowship, and eating together is such a great way of building relationships. Food is important; in fact it’s vital. We all know that unless we eat we will die. Did you know that God puts his word on the same level of importance in our lives?
During his wilderness temptation Jesus fasted forty days. He was weakened, probably near death, when Satan came to him and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded to him by quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3 saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
Jesus was saying that hearing and obeying the word of God is more important than physical life. Whether or not we sense that same degree of importance doesn’t make it any less vital. God says that we need his word to live. We need to ask ourselves, “How important is God’s word to me?”
To answer that question, think about what priority Bible reading and study occupy in your life. Do you read God’s word if you have time? Is Bible study squeezed out of your schedule by the newspaper, television, the Internet, or e-mail?
If our physical eating habits were the same as our habits concerning the “Bread of Life” how healthy would we be physically? If we fed our bodies to the same degree that we feed our spirits, how much physical strength would we have?
Several years ago I injured my knee. It caused me constant pain. I began taking ibuprophen and found that it helped. About every four hours I needed to “pop” a pill in order to keep the pain at a level I could live with. After a couple of months the injury began to get better and the pain subsided. Then I’d forget to take the medicine. Soon, however, the pain would return and then I’d think to take the pain reliever. My pain reminded me of my need. When I hurt, I took my medicine. When the pain was gone, I ignored the dosage.
That’s what often happens in our relationship with God. Some folks’ relationship with God is pain driven. When the emotional/spiritual pain becomes high enough in their life, they get serious about seeking Him. The problem with a pain-driven spirituality is that when the pain lets up, the intensity with which we seek God subsides too.
It’s sad that many people never get past the “pain relief” approach to their faith. It’s sad because those folks are missing the abundant life. Jesus didn’t come just to bring us temporary relief from our spiritual pain. He came to heal us. He isn’t a Divine Pharmacist. He is the Great Physician.
Without a disciplined approach to Bible study and devotion we will never experience the abundant life to the degree that God intends for us to have it. The best of life is available to those who want it. It is not a matter of limited resources. It is not a matter of God’s availability to us. It is a matter of our availability to Him.
The best of life is reserved for the children of God who will discipline their thoughts, priorities, and actions to live by his word. Read and study God’s word daily. Your life depends on it.