The Christian's Diet: Feast Upon the Word.
Note: Today's post is from one of my dear brothers in Christ, Ryan Burris. He has been called to the ministry and is currently pursuing his Master's of Divinity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a youth minister, a gifted preacher and, as you will read, a wonderful writer and expositor of God's Word. I hope you enjoy his thoughts on this important subject and are blessed and challenged by his message.
Ezekiel 3:1 He said to me: “Son of man, eat what you find here. Eat this scroll, then go and speak to the house of Israel.”
A new year is just around the corner, and with that comes resolutions. Consistently, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is going on a diet or losing weight (which typically includes dieting). Our culture is crying out for new, more successful diets with quicker results, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. While I am not a dieter myself, it seems as though most diets that I have heard of are based around 1 primary principle. It may be a low or no-carb diet, perhaps a no sugar or low fat diet, maybe, like me it is a “seefood” diet. When I see food that looks good, I eat it. I believe in taking care of oneself physically, hence the reason why I do workout and for the most part eat a healthy diet. I believe also that the Christian should have some concern for taking care of his body. Scripture explains that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20), therefore, I believe we should take care of them. Further, Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4 that training the body does have some benefit, though it is limited.
However, he does not stop here, but continues on to say that training for godliness and being godly is of far greater value. Paul is emphasizing the fact that as Christians we should be much more concerned with our spiritual health than we should our physical physique. This should lead to the Christian being on a spiritual diet and having a routine of spiritual exercise in order to make sure that he is healthy and in peak shape. Paul compares the Christian to being an athlete, and not a mediocre one at that, but rather an athlete who is competing for the prize. We must be striving in our Christian walk each and every day to grow as a Christian, just as the professional athletes “strike a blow” to their bodies each and every day to get better, faster, and stronger.
So what is this spiritual diet??? As I mentioned earlier, most diets are built upon one basic principle. The same is true for the follower of Christ. We must feast upon the Word of God.
I have been amazed recently at how this idea of eating the Word of God floods the text of Scripture. I don’t think any Christian would disagree that the Bible is important to Christians, but I want to propose that we have allowed it to subtly become far less important than what it ought to be. It has become a self-help book when it should be our lifeline.
Littered throughout the pages of the Bible are verses that speak to this very idea. At the beginning of this post, I quoted Ezekiel 3:1. God had Ezekiel do some very interesting things to say the least, most of which were unique to Ezekiel himself. However, one interesting thing that is commanded to more people than just Ezekiel is this command for him to literally eat the scroll that God had presented him. At this command Ezekiel goes on to say, “So I opened my mouth, and He fed me the scroll. ‘Son of man,’ He said to me, ‘eat and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.’ So I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezk. 3:2-3). Wow! I wish I had the zeal of Ezekiel to just do whatever God asked me, no matter how crazy it sounded, without hesitation or question.
The psalmist had a very similar experience to Ezekiel as he too ate the Word of God. He writes, “How sweet your word is to my taste – sweeter than honey in my mouth” (Ps. 119:103).
The feast continues for the prophet Jeremiah who says, “Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart…” (Jer. 15:16).
Job also speaks to this idea as he says, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily food” (Job 23:12b).
When Jesus was facing temptation He reprimanded Satan, and reminds readers, of Deuteronomy 8:3, that “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). Then in John 4 when His disciples beg Him to eat He explains that He has a food that they do not understand, which is to do the will of the Father (Jn. 4:32-34). Further, in John 7 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn. 7:53). Flipping a few pages back to John 1, the reader will remember that Jesus is the Word of God, which has become flesh.
Then In John’s Revelation, he was given a very similar command to Ezekiel: “Now the voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take and eat it; it will be bitter in your stomach, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’ Then I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I ate it, my stomach became bitter” (Rev. 10:9-10). While this scroll is likely filled with more revelation of God’s wrath than what we are actually given in the book of Revelation, it is still a clear command for John to eat the scroll, which illustrates the idea being discussed in this post.
While I do believe in some of the above instances that these men probably did physically consume the scroll, in contemporary application it’s what eating the scroll or the Word of God implies that we should understand. As I mentioned before, the weight of the Holy Scripture seems to be far heavier and far more important than what many seem to give it. The benefits that come along with eating are far beyond the mere reading of words on a page.
The Benefits of Eating
Go back with me to Ms. Ferguson’s Anatomy and Physiology class my senior year of high school. As we began the section on nutrition, I remember her making the statement “We eat to live, we do not live to eat.” This statement rings in my ears as I think of the importance of the Word for the Christian life. The Word is what gives us life, after all the Word became flesh.
The majority of people who will read this do not know what hunger is like. We eat merely because we want to. However, even for us who have plenty, we understand that without food we would die. We eat food in order to gain essential nutrients that keep us alive and healthy and give us energy. If we decided that we would never eat again for the rest of our lives, we would surely not have very long. In the same way, for a Christian to continue in the ways of the Lord, He must know and believe God’s Word. He must chew through the Word, savoring the flavors, digesting it and absorbing the life from the Word of God.
More to the point, he must make a routine of reading through the Bible carefully, understanding the truth of the Gospel on every page. He must spend time praying through the Word asking God to reveal Himself and His truth. He must memorize the Word so that when faced with a temptation he can do as Jesus did and say “it is written.”
I believe that when we do this, we will understand in a greater way the story throughout the Bible, the Gospel: Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration. The Gospel is what allows us to understand where we can find life!
Eating the Word leads to sharing the Gospel
As we mull over the Scriptures, it will not be long until we see the urgency with which God told all of those who had eaten the Word to go and proclaim the message! (refer back to Ezekiel 3:1 at the beginning of this post) We all know the cliché “you are what you eat,” and such is true with the Bible. If we feast upon the Word of God, while we will not become God’s Word, we will begin to go out and proclaim it. It will leave us with a burden for those who have no access to it or have not heard it. As it gives us life we will want to share it with others so that they too may have life. This message is far to important for us to keep to ourselves.
So, to wrap this up, I think Scripture is pretty clear that we must consume the Word of God. We must ask ourselves if we are making the Word a staple in our diet as Christians. We must also ask if we are allowing it to transform us. Are we digesting it? Are we truly allowing the words of the Almighty Himself to shape our life? Are we relying on it to give us life, or are we looking for satisfaction and understanding in other places?
Friends, I pray that we will no longer take lightly the Word of God. I pray that we will read and re-read the Scriptures so that we may grow stronger in our faith and become more committed followers of Christ. I pray that you will make a commitment today to feast upon the Word of God.