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) In this post, I look at food that God gives to the church through other believers.
In Scripture, we see many, many examples of God speaking to his children through other believers. There are examples of this kind of indirect communication in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In many ways, Scripture itself is an example of this type of indirect communication as God inspired some to write to others.
The concept of a priesthood contains within it the idea of communicating and serving others on behalf of God. Of course, God intended for the entire kingdom of Israel to act as priests to the other nations around them. Instead, they chose to have others act as intermediaries (in oppositions to God’s will). Similarly, in the New Testament, all believers (all of God’s children) are described as priests.
The “one anothers” of Scripture are probably the most obvious examples of God working through one or more believers in order to communicate with (feed) other believers. We must not limit these “one anothers” to those related to speaking. While God can communicate with his children through teaching, admonishing, encouraging, etc. He can also communicate with us through serving, helping, giving, etc.
This is probably the type of “food” that the church consumes most. But, primarily, the church is not consuming this type of food in a balanced manner. The majority of the church does the “eating” while a minority provides the food. This does not seem to be the example we see in Scripture. Instead, both the consuming and the providing should be mutual.
There’s another problem with the way the church consumes this indirect food today. Primarily, Christians today are learning from strangers. This can be in the form of books, blogs, podcasts, CDs, etc. But, in Scripture, believers are exhorted to learn from both the words and the lifestyle of those that they know and live with daily. Even when Paul was not with a particular group of believers, he would point them back to the way that he lived while he was among them.
Obviously, God can and does communicate with us through strangers. But, this should not be the primary way that we learn about and hear from God.
Finally, as with all of these “sources” of food from God, remember that a balanced diet is important. Just as “direct” communication from God should be discerned and tested, so also this type of indirect communication should be tested… and perhaps even more so. We should especially be careful if all of our indirect communication from God is coming from primarily one source (i.e., the same person teaching week after week).
What would you add to my discussion of this kind of indirection communication from God through other believers?
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