Food—I’m a big fan of it. It gives me energy; it makes me feel satisfied; it helped me grow when I was little. But my favorite thing about food is the taste, the experience of eating something delicious. Food is both essential and enjoyable. Jesus knew we would be able to relate to a basic need such as food, so He talked a lot about it—spiritual food, that is. So what does it mean?
The very concept of spiritual food indicates that there, too, is spiritual hunger. People are born incomplete, and we put a whole lot of effort into finding out what life means, why we’re here, and how to be happy. So we walk around hungry, feeding ourselves all kinds of things we hope will fill us up: money, relationships, stuff. But nothing satisfies—until we sit down with Jesus at His table and eat the food He has laid out for us.
Jesus’ food, in my opinion, comes in three basic forms: God’s Word, conversation with God, and fellowship with other Christ-followers. Each of these types of spiritual food, like physical food, is essential and enjoyable. Check out this passage from 1 Peter:
Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it in your salvation [essential for growth], since you have tasted that the Lord is good [enjoyable to experience].
We need all three types of food to grow. If we don’t read God’s Word, it’s hard to understand His nature. If we don’t talk to God in prayer, it’s difficult to hear His voice when He wants to tell us what’s best for us or simply that He loves us. And if we don’t invest in other believers, we forego the encouragement God wants us to give and receive from others who are trying to grow too.
As we grow spiritually, our appetite for spiritual food increases. The more we eat, the more we want. Filling up on food that satisfies our hunger becomes so significant and so enjoyable that we start realizing that we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves. We begin to notice the spiritually hungry around us and we desire to make sure they know about the food Jesus offers to them. And that’s exactly how God designed it:
“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” He told him.
As we grow, we love God more and more; as we love God more, we love others more. In our love for others, we do what we can to make sure everyone who’s empty knows where to find Jesus’ food—the only thing that can satisfy our hunger.
When I start to feel empty, I ask myself these things: What am I filling up on? Does anything but spiritual food satisfy? Am I intentional about feeding God’s lambs?