As I said in the introduction to this series, I’ve decided to look at the source of the “food” that the church needs to take in to be healthy. I’ve divided the sources into three types: 1) directly from God, 2) from other believers, and 3) from others. Now, in reality, all “food” for the church comes from God. However, in some cases, God works more directly; but in other cases, God communicates in a more indirect manner.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness just after he was baptized by John, at one point he responded, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 ESV, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)
Our goal, then, should be hearing what God is saying to us. That is the “food” for the church, and the more we hear (and obey) whatever God is saying to us, the more healthy the church will be. For a balance meal, we would seek to hear from God anytime, anywhere, in any way. Whether God chooses to communicate directly to us, or through other believers, or through nonbelievers, or even through aspects of our culture or society, our goal should be the same: understanding what God is saying to us and responding to that.
Now, almost every believer would agree that the church should listen to God. The difference is in how different believers (and especially different groups of believers) think that God communicates with them. I’ve show examples from Scripture of God communicating in many different ways, and I’ve also suggested that discernment is necessary for understanding and interpreting any time someone believes God is “feeding” them. Often, in Scripture, this discernment, understanding, and interpretation are done in community, that is, with other believers.
So far, then, there are two parts of being “fed” by God that is often overlooked by groups of believers: 1) God can and does communicate in different ways through different sources and 2) Discernment, understanding, and interpretation are best carried out in community with other brothers and sisters in Christ. If the church continues to overlook these two aspects, then I think the church will continue to take in an unbalanced diet and will be unhealthy.
Finally, being “fed” by God is not the end of the story, just as hearing from God is not the end of the story. Hearing from God demands a response. Thus, being fed by God demands exercise. Next week, in another series, I will investigate several types of exercise that will help the church remain healthy.
What would you like to add to my discussion of a healthy diet for the church? Besides dividing this diet into “sources” (i.e. directly from God, through believers, and through nonbelievers), what other ways could we categories the church’s food? What is the danger of seeking to be fed from God only in one way or another?
A Healthy Diet for the Church Series
2. “Food” given directly by God
3. “Food” given by God through other believers
4. “Food” given by God through nonbelievers/society/culture