In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.
To: Friend Seeking More from Faith
From: Doug Nuenke
Subject: Too Easily Satisfied
Hello my friend,
My goodness! It’s taken me several starts and stops to actually sit down and respond to your last email! First text messages; then a phone call; then a rabbit trail of reading news, getting lost on the internet, and checking social media. It appears I have a limitless appetite for distraction, particularly when I have more important things to do!
All of this begins to answer the question you posed in your last email: what gets in the way of abiding with Christ?
The answer is simple: we are distracted, often busied by and sometimes addicted to other things. We so easily direct our gaze to anything and everything but Jesus.
Humans are driven to pursue a flourishing life, but we often settle for shortcuts that make satisfaction seem easier and instantaneous. Take, for example, how we consume food. I recently read an article about how the food revolution of the 1960’s (with its ready-made meals) turned us into a society of snackers. “Many people are scarcely acquainted with the feeling of hunger anymore… the new pattern is a series of solitary snacks that we often hardly notice or enjoy as they pass through our gullet.”
Isn’t that sad? Our snack culture has detached us from our true feelings of hunger and undermined our capacity to taste, enjoy, and benefit from healthy food.
I wonder if the same concept doesn’t apply to how we satiate our spiritual hunger. Too often we fill our spiritual ‘stomachs’ with other affections or activities that distract but do not fulfill us. We can make a “religion” out of anything that is voraciously pursued for personal fulfillment: career, social connectivity, fitness, sex, achievement, you name it.
One area worth highlighting. Our culture has become more and more occupied with sexual fascination and exploits. People are increasingly turning to illicit relationships, both actual and virtual, to anesthetize pain or in pursuit of relational intimacy ultimately designed to be met by God.
The problem is that we are ‘snacking’ on things that fail to satisfy or nourish us. At best, they are tasteless compulsions that numb our hunger. And at worst they become addictions that attach themselves to us like a parasite, sucking the life from us. In either case, our pursuit to be satisfied will never provide the fullness of life that Jesus promised—in Himself!
In John 6:35, Jesus says “I am the bread of life… whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.” He is the only one who can feed and fill us forever. (See also: 1 John 2:15-17)
Abiding with Christ is the activity we were designed for, the fuel we were intended to run on. Although the affections and activities I mentioned above may not be harmful in themselves, they become so when we treat them as our sustenance. For they were never meant to be our ‘bread of life.’
C.S. Lewis provides an example of this in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The villain of the story offers Edmund an enchanted candy called Turkish Delight, “for she knew… that anyone who had once tasted it would want more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.”
As the story unfolds, Edmund becomes addicted to Turkish Delight, which leads him down a path of upheaval for his siblings and himself. The false form of sustenance Edmund thought would satisfy him entrapped him instead.
I wonder if there are affections or activities that come to mind that could be your ‘Turkish Delight?’ In what ways might you be too easily satisfied and miss the gift of feasting on Jesus? Are there practical steps you can take to direct your hunger to the bread of Life, which is the true hunger beneath all our other cravings?
Eager to hear your thoughts,