Spiritually Hangry

My life has been dramatically changed by one of the most significant technological advances of the last century: the DVR. Most people may not think that it warrants the same level of prestige as the artificial heart, the personal computer or the cellular phone, but for me, it has been a game-changer. I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s, and while growing up, my primary entertainment medium was television. Rarely did my family go to movies or concerts and never to a play. But we watched a lot of major network TV (for those of you under 50, that translates to ABC, NBC and CBS), and occasionally, when we were feeling particularly adventuresome, sampled a little PBS or the mysterious world of UHS. Mostly, we stuck with the mainstream sitcoms and police shows, so I am pretty well versed in the casts and characters from All in the Family, Barney Miller, Charlie’s Angels and ColumboI realize how old-fashioned that sounds, but back in my youth, quality TV time meant that I was up-to-date with the latest in pop culture.

My life and my schedule have changed greatly over the decades so that today I almost never see TV shows as they are broadcast. But, with the help of the miraculous DVR function in my cable box, I am able to watch the few TV shows that I want to see, when I want to see them. The wonders of living in the modern world!

As with most things, there is a darker side to my DVR use. Because I don’t get around to watching shows timely, I can sometimes feel a little bit left behind. For example, when catching up on the 40 or so episodes of Jeopardy! I have recorded, I can be surprised when Alex Trebek wishes the audience a happy Mothers’ Day when I am celebrating Labor Day. I can get a little out of sync with the rest of the world. Even more disorienting is the double-edged sword of having the power to fast-forward through commercials. I love the freedom of being able to skip commercials and opening and closing credits so that an hour-long program takes only about 40 minutes. I find, however, that I have begun to miss the commercials. On some shows, the commercials were the funniest parts. Some commercial slogans or tag lines have worked their way into our language and shared experience. Who could forget: “Where’s the beef?”, “Can you hear me now?”, or “Got milk?” One current commercial slogan that I like is Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry”. Snickers has been running that campaign for several years, so even I am familiar with it. I like this campaign both because the commercials are very funny and because I think that the premise is true:  hunger changes us for the worse.

JimSnickers

I was reminded of this as Roman was teaching about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The Gospel of Matthew tells us, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.” (Mt 4:1-2) Jesus had taken on our humanity, and Satan was trying to take advantage of Him while He was weakest – while He was hungry. I think Satan hoped that Jesus would be like us – He wouldn’t be himself when He was hungry. Jesus, however, showed how far superior he is to us by resisting Satan’s temptation and even driving him away despite His hunger and physical weakness. Three times Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations and lies by quoting scripture. He was still His true self, even when hungry.

Jesus highlighted the connection between our physical needs and our spiritual ones when Satan tempted Him with food. He responded, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Mt 4:4) I think that God gave us this story because we would be able to relate well to it. We have probably all been very hungry at some time in our lives, so we can understand how Jesus felt. When I get really hungry, I get a headache, am impatient, can’t concentrate and am irritable. When I am “hangry”, all I think about is getting food, I don’t care about other people, and I make stupid decisions.

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I also think that God gave us this story because He wants us to learn the lesson about our spiritual needs as well. It is natural for everyone to recognize that we need food, but it is not as obvious to us that we need God’s word just as much. When Jesus rebuked Satan, He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 which is the passage where Moses was reminding the people of Israel that God had provided them food in the form of manna along with a series of instructions for gathering and preparing it so that they would understand that they needed both the resources God provides and obedience to His word in order to live and thrive.

I see the truth of this in my own life today. When I try to live on just “bread” and don’t get enough of God’s word, I become spiritually hangry. Without a regular intake of scriptural truth, I don’t view the world the way God does. I become more selfish, less patient, less loving, less able to resist temptation and less joyful. Even my prayers change. My prayers become small and self-centered. I find myself praying only about my needs and desires, or if I am feeling especially generous, the needs of my closest family and friends. Only when I have gotten adequate feeding from the scriptures do I have the right view of God and have God’s view of the world. Then my prayers can be focused on praising God for His greatness and asking Him to make me the man He wants me to be and to move in the world to accomplish His purposes.

We need to learn from Jesus and from Snickers; we are not ourselves, not the people God has made us to be, when we are spiritually hungry. So, here, have some scripture…


Jim

Jim and his wife Tracey live in King of Prussia and 3 adult children.  They have been at Hope for over 15 years and thrive on seeing God working in His people to demonstrate Christ to our community.

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