It took me a while but I finally signed up for my first race of 2017. I will be running the Booneville Backroads 100 Mile Ultramarathon in May. Every time I sign up for a race, the butterflies go off in my stomach and I’m instantly nervous. Signing up means not only spending 20+ hours running on that day, but also weeks of training to get my body in shape for it. One of the most important things is nutrition. Running ultramarathons has taught me more than anything the importance of food as fuel for the human body. Most of my life has been spent eating because I’m hungry or because I enjoy the taste of certain foods. But running for hours on end requires fuel to be burned off as energy so you don’t hit a wall and stop.
Sometimes I think we in the church need to be reminded of this fact. Now, I’m not talking about physical food, but instead about Spiritual food like Jesus talks about in His conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4. When His disciples urged Him to eat, Jesus responded, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about… My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.”
I was reminded as our Tuesday Bible Study began to look at Haggai that sometimes we get Spiritually obese on our Spiritual food. As Haggai called God’s people back from their selfishness to focus on the will of their God, I think his words can call us back too. “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.” While Haggai is speaking specifically of God’s people choosing their own well-being instead of the work of the Temple, I think we have the tendency to seek our own good within the church rather than the good of others. We meet together for our own “filling up” but don’t ever “burn it off”. If all we do is focus on our own knowledge and well-being, we don’t fulfill the call on our lives to “…prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
Jesus tells the great story of two builders who put together houses; one on rock and one on sand. As the story begins, it’s easy to see which builder is making the better choice. But the comparison for Jesus is that the wise builder is one who hears His words and puts them into practice. The foolish builder hears the same words; he just doesn’t do anything about it. And it leads to destruction.
We are called to be people who “feed” on God’s Word, and then “burn it off” as we show and tell it in all the places we go. I want to challenge all of us – individuals, leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc – to look for the ways God’s Word can lead us into lives of mission. It is when we put that Word into practice that we see the Kingdom of God come into view.