Theme: Hunger (Sunday 20 Sept, 2020)
Bible Reading: John 6:25-35
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
This Service will be run Online Only – 9am on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/turramurrauniting/live/
Are you hungry? Do you have a real hunger for more of God? Do you hunger for things to be right and just in this world? Many people across the world are experiencing physical hunger but even more people are experiencing a spiritual hunger … wanting more of God in their life, or a hunger for God’s word to speak to them, or a hunger for a sense of God’s presence, or even a hunger for justice or for things to be made right. Using Jesus words from John 6, Phil will help us explore what do we might do when we are hungry and how do we might find the things that satisfy that hunger?
Phil challenged us last week to consider exploring this topic of hunger by … being hungry. The challenge was to skip breakfast on Sunday morning or if your are really keen, skip both Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast so that you are experiencing physical hunger as we explore this topic of Hunger. This is only optional … just an idea.
Are you hungry? Are you feeling hungry?
If so, what are you hungry for?
Some of us are feeling physical hungry … especially if you skipped breakfast or dinner last night. We are feeling the hunger. Maybe others here are hungry for something else. You see, today I am not just talking about physical hunger but also spiritual hunger, a hunger for God, or an emotional hunger for connection and relationship, or a hunger for justice.
Are you hungry? What are you hungry for?
The dictionary defines hunger as:
Hunger- (n) An uneasy sensation occasioned by the want of food; a craving of food; a strong or eager desire
(ii) a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.
In your body, hunger is sign that your body needs fed, that you are lacking something nutritionally. An uneasiness. It begins as a slow pang, somewhere on the edge of your stomach, but if it is ignored too long, it becomes a burning need that must be met. God established the feeling of hunger so we would not deprive our bodies of what they need.
The other types of hunger I spoke about … a hunger for connection, or justice or Spiritual hunger is similar. It begins as an uneasiness, a little feeling within us – in our souls – that says, “Hey, I think I am missing something. There is something that I need that I am not getting. I just don’t feel satisfied”.
There are examples of both types of hunger in our Bible reading today from John chapter 6. In the beginning of the chapter Jesus and a huge crowd of 5000 people are in the middle of nowhere and hungry. Jesus responded by miraculously satisfying the physical hunger of 5000 people with five loaves and 2 fish. Verse 12 tells us that “everyone had enough to eat … or everyone was satisfied”
Night comes and goes with a boat ride, storm, some walking on water and arrival at the other side of the lake … where the crowd catch back up again. It’s 12 hours later and they are hungry again. Jesus said in the beginning of our reading “You are only looking for me because you you’re hungry” BUT Jesus hints … there is something else that satisfies …
Let’s just unpack this by going in a bit deeper.
If you watched last week, you would know that four members of my family – Marion, Bec, Matt and myself – as well as Matt’s girlfriend and Anne Cornford have spent the last week participating in the Ration Challenge where we did experience some physical hunger but also had some other insights.
Last week I interviewed Anne about what the Ration Challenge is and why she was doing it and this week I am going to interview my daughter Bec. Welcome Bec.
- So for anyone who didn’t connect in last Sunday can you remind us what the Ration Challenge is all about?
- So how did you go? Did you get hungry?
- What insights did you have (there was not enough nutrition … boring … and this is what refugees get week in week out.)
- What are your plans now … eat … in relation to refugees?
I think that one of the words that I reflected on from doing the challenge was the word “satisfied”. I wasn’t necessary hungry doing the challenge but I really wasn’t satisfied. Rice is ok but only rice … all the time … just made me feel flat and ordinary. It clearly wasn’t the right balance of a nutritious diet and I really wasn’t feeling satisfied.
What does it mean to be satisfied in other areas of hunger.
Because isn’t that ultimately what we all look for through life and work and all that we do? To be satisfied? To find fulfilment, meaning and purpose? To be able to look back at a day, or a month, or a year (and hopefully even our lives) and say that we were truly satisfied? Of course it is.
It is also the word that kept coming up in our bible reading … Jesus said that the crowd were seeking him because they were “filled” or “satisfied” from the loaves and fishes and they are just wanting to be satisfied again.
The Greek word that Jesus used for “filled” or “satisfied” is χορτάζω (chortázō) which has two different meanings. In its simple form it literally means a full stomach. When we are physically hungry and we eat, we satisfy that hunger. But the Greek word can also mean to satisfy people’s hearts and souls. When a person finds meaning, or fulfillment or purpose.
So when Jesus says to the crowd … you are just seeking me because you want to be Chortazo, to be satisfied … he is both acknowledging that some people are probably just want their next meal … but some people are also searching for meaning and purpose and fulfillment in their lives and souls. And Jesus wants to affirm that this hunger for satisfaction is a good thing.
Verse 27 … don’t just be concerned with perishable food but also seek the food that will satisfy your soul. Seek the food that will bring you life – eternal life. Or as Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:13,14 – “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
So are you spiritually hungry? Are you feeling a sense of dissatisfaction when it comes to your spiritual life? Are you feeling that your missing something?
Are you hungry for God’s presence like writer of Psalm 42
“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”
Are you hungry for God’s word or hungry for Spiritual growth like the Apostle Peter talks about in 1 Peter 2:2 – Like newborn babies, crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word, so that by it you may grow
I want to say that if you are hungry or feeling spiritually dissatisfied … that is not necessarily a bad thing or an indication that you are in a bad pace. After someone is unwell, the sign of hunger is an indication that they are getting better. Or you can be in a great spiritual place but still have that desire to want more, to be filled more, to grow more.
Whatever the reason why we are hungry, scripture tells us that the place we can find that satisfaction, that filling, is in God or Jesus.
Listen to the words in Psalm 107:5,9…
They were hungry and thirsty; Their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the Lord and … God satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:5,9
The trap that we can fall into here is that we rely on other people to fill us, or worship to fill us … when it is God alone who can satisfy our souls.
I am not being critical, but I have heard people saying, “my needs are not met by my small group” or “I am find worship really flat” or “I’m not being fed by the sermons”. On one hand these comments are great because they express a desire for more, a desire to find satisfaction. We just have to be careful not expecting the worship team or the small group or the pastor to do it all for us. And while we do expect our church to strive to be as helpful as they can be, ultimately, we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and it is only ourselves that can cry out to God. We need to be interntional.
So, are you hungry? If you are searching for more satisfaction in your spiritual life, then let’s cry out to God and open ourselves up to the infilling of God.
So how do we do this? I know it seems like a trite answer but the best way we can open ourselves up to the feedings and filling of God in our lives in through the classic spiritual disciples. Finding time to stop and just be in the presence of God, prayer, silence, reading the Bible and pondering it, meditation, reading other Christian books or podcasts or sermons on YouTube or getting out into creation, or allowing God to speak through artistic or creative expressions or finding ways to serve others or …
I could go on but we know all this. We know that if we submit to these disciplines then over time they do work. We do find satisfaction and growth I think it is because we either want something quick and simple or we want something new and innovative and so we sometimes dismiss these tried and true spiritual practices as not relevant or helpful but they are. It just requires us to be intentional about it. If we are hungry then we need to choose to pursue the things that will fill us and make us satisfied.
I just want to finish with one last point. Earlier I referred to the Greek word Chortázō (khor-tad’-zo) the sense of finding fulfilment or satisfaction for our hunger. Jesus uses this word in other famous speech … his Sermon on the Mount. As part of the beatitudes we find in Matthew 5:6 we read
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be Chrotazo … they will be filled.
Some commentators take this to be that we should hunger for the righteousness that we receive through Jesus’ gift of salvation … but I think (and most other commentators think) that more complete way of understanding this verse is
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the wrong things of this world to be made right (or even simpler who hunger and thirst for justice) … for they will be filled.
Jesus is saying that one of the avenues to satisfaction is to be about what God is about. A way to feel fulfilled is to be engaged in what God is engaged in, and God is about justice for all and righting the wrongs of this world.
I have heard people say, and I have experienced this myself, that when they are engaging in social issues, in trying to make this world a better place, that they find a deep sense of meaning and purpose in it. It brings satisfaction! I have found some satisfaction in my soul that our team for the Ration challenge has raised over $9000 and that with other people we have helped feed 5,800 refugees for a year. That does fill me.
One of the sermons I was reading on this topic (from a US gospel preacher) said it better than I could ever. So quoting Pastor Smith…
Blessed are those who thirst after righteousness, those who burn with a desire to make a difference, who will write letters and work in campaigns and sign petitions, in order that justice prevails. Blessed are those whose hunger and whose thirst is so complete that they will not rest until, one by one, the engines of war are dismantled, until the things which rob little children’s mouths are destroyed, until the stomachs of the poor are filled and the souls of the lonely are drenched.
If you are hungry, maybe you can find some filling by working for justice in this world too.
I know I have packed a lot into this talk this morning, but the main point was actually at the beginning. Hunger is a sign that your body needs fed, that you are lacking something nutritionally. Spiritual hunger is a sign that you are lacking something as well, and that you need to find whatever it is for you to be spiritually fed. Whether that is calling upon the Lord, being more intentional about the spiritual disciplines or working for justice in this world. Find what brings satisfaction to you and pursue it.
Jesus in our reading said that he is the bread of life. If we come to Jesus we will never be hungry, if we believe in Jesus we will never be thirsty. I love how at the end of John chapter 6 when some of the other followers of Jesus had turned away because his teaching was too hard and Jesus turns to the 12 disciples and says, “What about you, are you going to leave too?” and Peter in verse 68 honestly says, “Lord, where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life”. You are the one who fills us. We can’t find satisfaction anywhere else … Jesus – we are staying with you.
Hunger and thirst are something that we feel at every stage of life. It is healthy to be hungry, it is positive to be thirsty.
So may we follow that desire, lets not quit until we have satisfied every hunger and quenched the deepest thirst.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for the fullness of God’s Kingdom, for they will be filled.