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
In November, Americans’ thoughts turn to food and thanksgiving.
Our entire nation, no matter what our ethnic heritage or background, pauses on the fourth Thursday to give thanks for all the blessings we have. For Christians, our thanks are directed toward the Bread of Life who feeds us and sustains us. The Old Testament story of the manna reminds us to be thankful to God for bread, life, and survival. In the New Testament, Jesus had compassion for the hungry and fed thousands.
Jesus had a deeper concern for hungry spirits. He reminded the people that their purpose in life was not to fill their stomachs with food so that they could live, but to fill their lives with God’s spiritual food and live eternally. Believing in the One whom God the Father has sent is how humans receive this spiritual food. Just as God sent manna from heaven to give life to the Hebrews in the wilderness, God the Father sent God the Son to give life to the world. Apart from Jesus, the world dies.
This is not to say that physical hunger is unimportant. Our faith teaches us that God cares for both body and spirit and that God’s will is for bodies to be filled as well as their spirits. This is why throughout the ages Christians have always cared for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the ill, and the lonely. Our work in the world is not solely about us but about how we can use our time, talents, and resources to make this world a better place for all people.
- We partner with God in using our abilities to help others develop theirs.
- We work with God by sharing what we have to make sure that others have enough.
- We offer to God our hunger for justice and mercy and God moves us to build and grow our businesses that will allow us the resources to feed that hunger.
How are you hungry?
God’s people in the wilderness knew physical hunger and God met their need. Our brothers and sisters living in shelters, in cars, in the woods, and under bridges know true hunger — and God is meeting their need as we care for the poor. We may not identify with the physical hunger that confronted the Hebrews in the desert, the multitude prior to the miracle of the fish and bread, or our neighbors who are without resource, but we should know the spiritual hunger of which Jesus speaks.
- Do you hunger for life, real life, abundant life, eternal life?
- Do you know a hunger so deep that you feel as though death will come apart from the Bread of Life?
- Do you have a hunger so severe that it wakes you up in the middle of the night crying out for God’s presence?
- Do you have a hunger so weakening that it drives you to your knees in prayer?
This is the hunger that moves us toward God and causes us to devour our Bibles, to wolf down quiet times of prayer and meditation, and to feast in worship.
This is the hunger that only God through Christ can fill.
Perhaps it has been a while since you knew this kind of hunger. We can lose our taste for the eternal when we develop a taste for the things of this world. Choosing to spend time on work projects at the expense of worship, choosing time with the Internet research over prayer, choosing spreadsheets over the Bible, and choosing to spend our time, talents, and treasures on ourselves, our families, and our businesses over serving all of God’s family gives us a taste for the world and not for heaven.
If we want a healthy, whole life, if we want to live, we must replace earthly junk food with glorious heavenly food. We must eat the bread of life come down from heaven.
When we believe in Jesus, we will not be hungry and thirsty again for things of this world and we will make a difference personally, socially, politically, and economically.
Photo by Flickr (abrunvoll)
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves the faith communities of St. John’s UMC in Lutherville, MD, and Idlewylde UMC as lead pastor. As the member of the District Committee on Ministry, Carol has mentored other women as they answer their call to ministry. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of an aging parent, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance.