Use your imagination for a moment. Let’s say someone gave you a coupon for a free meal at a local restaurant that will be good for the next 24 hours. Tax and tip are even included. You think about it for a while and decide that you are not interested, so you throw away the coupon.
Why would you NOT take advantage of a free meal?
I can think of three reasons why you might not care about using the free coupon.
#1. You’ve tried eating at restaurants before, and you didn’t like the food.
#2. Maybe you just finished eating at a buffet, and you are stuffed. Or,
#3. You are not feeling well right now and can’t even think about food.
No one may give you a coupon for a free meal, but let’s use this imaginary scenario to help us think about what is real and true, though. God has indeed given you an open invitation to enjoy free spiritual meals.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:1–2).
That is God’s open invitation, but a surprising few take advantage of it. Why? Even though the offer of salvation is free, most people turn it down. Jesus warned us it would be this way: “the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).
I think that the same three reasons I gave for ignoring a coupon for a free meal can also apply to those who ignore God’s offer of free spiritual food.
Over the years, different people have told me that they are not interested in God’s forgiveness because of a bad experience they had at church. I’ll grant that they may well be telling the truth, but I often point out that they aren’t being consistent. If they had a bad experience at a department store, I doubt that they would refuse to go to any department store ever again.
By the way, in the bulletin we hand out every Sunday here at Bethel Chapel Church, it says, “We are a group of imperfect people who have found unconditional acceptance, purpose in life, and a love for others through a relationship with Jesus.”
Yes, all churches are filled with imperfect people, but a good church serves nourishing spiritual food that comes directly from God’s Word. (Read Psalm 19:7-14). Assuming that God’s Word is being taught clearly and freely, then why do most people have no hunger for it?
That brings us to the second reason I gave above. It is possible to be so filled with the world’s counterfeit food that there is no appetite for the pure Word of God. No one in their right mind would wolf down three large candy bars a few minutes before sitting down to a delicious, four-course meal. If they didn’t like the dinner, they could blame their lack of appetite on the food being served, but the real problem would be that they had no appetite because they chose to fill their stomachs with candy right before the meal.
There will be little or no desire for God’s Word while we are stuffing ourselves with harmful “junk food.” That is why we should be, “putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, IF you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:1–3).
The third reason I gave for refusing a free meal is the biggest problem, actually the first one that needs to be solved. If you have a stomach bug, no food is appetizing, no matter how good it may be. The same is true when we are sick spiritually.
Before anyone can have a craving to know God and His Word, the heart must be transformed. That’s because every one of us begins as “… children [who deserve God’s] wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2:3–5).
Once you get a taste of God’s amazing grace, then you will discover “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).
Jesus made this wonderful offer: “I am the bread of life…… I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:48–51).
The only way to “… hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6) is for God to create that hunger in your heart. That miracle happens when people put their trust in Jesus Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
One of the “new things” you will experience is an appetite for spiritual food. “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). That is the testimony of a healthy appetite. May all of you find joy in God’s Word this week!