Have you ever wondered why God created us so that we would get hungry? When I was at Union (where I got my undergrad), my Philosophy professor (Dr. Bush) began class one day with that question. And to be honest, I don’t think I had ever considered it. I knew the physical answer: to get energy to our body (you know, to stay alive and stuff). But I had never thought about any theological implications for hunger. So why did God do this? He could have created us without this need, so why did He chose to make us to experience hunger?
Although I am not sure that the Bible ever answers this directly, there are some implications about food from the text. We are to look to God for provision of the food we need (Matthew 6:25ff). We are to be thankful for the Lord’s provision (1 Timothy 4:1-5). These implications point us to the truth that we are not self-sufficient. Put a man in a room with nothing but his own skin and he will not last too long. We need something outside of us to sustain us. Hunger teaches us that lesson from birth.
Of course, physical hunger parallels our spiritual struggle as well. We are all born in need of something outside of ourselves to sustain us. Unfortunately, if left to ourselves, we will continually feed on food that will never satisfy. The problem is not so much that we do not have the freedom to choose, but simply that we want the wrong things. We hunger for ‘spiritual’ food that will never sustain us.
This past weekend, we took the youth from our Church on a retreat. Our passage for the weekend was Philippians 3, and in particular verses 8-9:
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– – Philippians 3:8-9
We talked about how to develop and sustain a passion for Christ like Paul writes about here. We started by having a “Weird Food Relay”, where I made the kids eat radishes and brocolli and pickled eggs (sometimes I really enjoy working with youth!) In our debriefing time I asked them how they could ever develop a taste for some of the things we ate and one student said: “We would need to have new taste buds.” We kinda laughed at the comment at first, but the more we talked the more we realized that that is exactly what we need. Our hunger for the stuff of earth will never just go away. No, if we are going to have a passion for Christ, then we need new taste buds. We need to see our sin for what it is (a lot like pickled eggs) so that we can truly see Christ for who He is. Isn’t this what happened to Paul? He did not always value Christ. He did not always want to know Him more. But when the Lord changed his heart on the road to Damascus, he was given new taste buds. And from that point on everything but Christ was rubbish (or pickled eggs to keep the analogy going). For Paul, his hunger was for the ‘surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.’ And for the believer, their hunger will be the same.
If you need a reminder of just how gross your sin can be, then I encourage you to go try some pickled eggs (my youth tell me they are terrible). And if you are looking for something to satisfy your spiritual hunger, then give up on the stuff of earth and feast on Christ! You will never be dissappointed.