When was the last time you said or heard somebody say, “Let’s get something to eat – I’m starving”? Exactly what does that mean? One thing you can be sure it doesn’t mean for millions of middle-class-income and upper-income Americans – it doesn’t mean we are suffering severely from lack of eating. Some of us may be like Tommy John who said, “I’m a light eater. When It gets light, I start eating.” Or like Tallulah Bankhead who said, “I never eat on an empty stomach.” We may be “hungry” if we haven’t eaten for several hours or if we’ve missed a meal or two. Or we may be “hungry” for Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Japanese, or just plain old American – but “starving” is a sensation few Americans in the financial strata mentioned above know anything about.
Let me come at the idea of hunger and “starving” from a different perspective now. Millions of Americans, and many Christians among them, have skinny souls! That is, they are starving spiritually from a failure to dine regularly on God’s word. In our culture we consume vast amounts of intellectual / mental junk food – things that feed our curiosity and our never-ending craving for academic knowledge, entertainment, news, music, athletics, etc. Research regularly reveals the average American dines on this stuff via TVs, smart phones, computers, and social media for hours every day. Meanwhile, according to a report @ statista.com, a 2021 survey finds that only 11% of Americans read the Bible daily. Trends in reading habits over four years showed that the majority of Americans never read the Bible, however in 2021 this number dropped to 29% of respondents (Covid related? Who knows). How many people (who are physically able to eat and have enough money for food) never eat a meal every day, or several meals every day? More personally, when is the last time you dined on the Bible? No, not just dabbed in it or nibbled a little bite just to satisfy a stab of conscience, but really read it to mediate on it and see what God has to say to your soul? Remarkable as it might seem in a land where Bibles abound, people are starving spiritually. How do I know that? One reason is because of what Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 as He duked it out with the devil in the wilderness temptation. When the devil commanded the Lord to turn stones into bread, Jesus punched back, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every world that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Many in America are out to prove the Lord wrong. But note, Jesus didn’t say man cannot exist by bread alone (bread standing as a symbol for physical, material necessities but also luxuries). He said man couldn’t “live” by bread alone. There’s a part of man that can’t thrive without God – the unseen part the Bible calls the “soul.” The immaterial, immortal part that can’t ever die, that hell can never burn up or heaven can never wear out. Just as God provided daily manna to keep His people physically alive in the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16), so today He provides food to sustain and keep us spiritually alive and healthy. That food is His word! That’s what makes Bible study and, like it or not, the preaching of the Bible, so vitally important to good spiritual health, for individual Christians and for congregations. The apostle Paul spoke to Timothy about being “a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). Are you being nourished spiritually? How often do you have a holy hunger, an acute craving to feed on the word of God that can save your soul (James 1:21)? Honestly now, how often do you feed your it? Just asking.