Are Our Spirits Starving to Death?
A television news magazine some time ago presented a piece about a malady that strikes many adults in the United States: “affluenza.” This social illness is manifested as ever increasing numbers of people spend their lives in a never-ending quest for ever-greater consumption. Primarily a disease of the middle and upper-economic status of society, affluenza is behind the striving that many of us perform in the interest of better salaries, better clothes, better houses, better cars, and better travel plans. We are addicted to affluence, the amassing of ever more stuff in the interest of pretending that our lives are meaningful.
Well, our live are meaningful and significant; but not because of the stuff we have accrued. The quest for ever greater piles of privilege will always prove to be unsatisfying to our souls. Those boats and cars will never be for us the bread that relieves our hunger.
As Jesus taught, the Hebrews in the wilderness had plenty of manna, but this earthly sustenance was not enough to give them life eternal. Christ alone offers that heavenly bread. The ironic truth is that, while we grow ever fatter on things of earth, our spirits are starving to death.
- What are your opportunities to partake of the “bread” that truly satisfies?
- In what ways is your own quest for “earthly bread” intruding on your desire for “the bread of heaven’?
- Is it only individuals who get caught up in ever-consumptive lifestyles? Might institutions (such as congregations) also become enamored of earthly rather than heavenly bread?
- How is the word bread used in the liturgy your congregations uses for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper? Does it refer to the physical bread or some other kind of bread?
- Flip through some magazines for advertisements. Think about how those advertisements might be attempting to promote a lifestyle characterized by ever greater spending and consumption. Think about how or whether you get caught up in what they are selling and why or why not it speaks to you.
- Make a list of your most recent major purchases. Spend some time thinking or journaling about the feelings and thoughts that surrounded your decision to make those purchases.
- Compose a prayer of confession centered on the idea of striving after bread that does not satisfy as opposed to the bread of eternal life which Christ offers. If it is appropriate, submit the prayer to your pastor for possible use in a future service of worship.
- Gather a group of friends, whether they attend the church or not, and prepare loaves of homemade bread for distribution to church members who are unable to leave their homes. They will enjoy the physical bread, but they will feast even more on the heavenly host which will be made tangible in this act.