In January of 2008, I spent three weeks traveling around Southern India. While I enjoyed the vast amount of my trip and look back upon it with fond memories, I also remember how much I missed my normal diet. The meat in India was so drastically different from what I was used to that I quickly switched to a vegetarian diet while there. So it didn’t take more than a few days to start craving this:
(Image courtesy of thinksquad.net)
Suddenly, I wanted a classic Whopper like a person lost wandering in the desert wants water. I know that this is hardly the best thing I have ever eaten. In fact, I wouldn’t say a Whopper is generally the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten, but when you’re starved even the mediocre can taste divine. When I came back home the very first thing I told my husband I wanted to eat was this Whopper I had been thinking about non-stop. We grabbed one on the way home. It tasted so good, and then it made me so sick. I had not had beef for several weeks and the grease of ground beef was especially difficult. Not to mention that I had not been that full since I left the United States.
While I was remembering this little experience of mine last night, I started to wonder if people had this kind of reaction to scripture. I hear more of the latter experience. People haven’t been reading their scripture for awhile, so they decide to pick up the Bible and read. Instead of finding it to be the best scripture they have ever read, they describe how difficult it was to digest. The heaviness of the subject and the complication of an older formulation of the English language in certain bible versions only exacerbates this. That kind of experience can really sour you. I haven’t eaten very many Whoppers since that Post-India one. They just don’t have the same gratification I had dreamed about in India. The state of deprivation can make the things we crave seem better than they are; they rarely stack up in reality.
I would say the exception to that is God and God’s word. “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3). We the created yearn to be connected to our creator, our God. We can deprive ourselves of connection and remove scripture from our daily diet, but that does not mean that we do not need it. When we finally decide to give into the spiritual craving, many of us will pick up a bible, randomly open it , and begin to read. In this fashion we can encounter difficult scripture passages and not have any means of making sense of what we read. We become discouraged, disenchanted, and disengage. God know this and understands. That’s precisely why God created the fellowship of believers, the priesthood of clergy, and the Church. In the community of faith, we find others who struggle as we do. We can learn and grow together in an edifying experience rather than a caustic one. The ordained clergy possess knowledge and training to assist us in this holy endeavor. The Church is a safe place to explore God’s word and a place where God has given us all the means necessary to do so. While we could eat alone, why would we want to when there are so many who also crave the nourishing word of the Lord?