Sep 14, 2009
I once heard a story of a plane that crashed in the Antarctic and the survivors had to hike back to civilization over a period of months. They survived by eating the people who died in the crash. One gentleman actually told of how he carried someone’s arm in his back pack and “snacked on it” as he hiked along. That’s creepy! I suppose if it meant surviving to see my wife and kids another day I might chew on some dead guys arm. I probably wouldn’t refer to it as a “snack” later in life, but that’s just me.
I’ve watched about five different reality shows where people were competing for huge sums of money and one of the things they had to do was eat disgusting things. We’re talking spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, dead rats, and even buffalo testicles! I watched one guy on “Fear Factor” eat three-week-old moldy, maggot-filled cheese. I do believe it was the sickest and funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed. When people are desperate, they’ll eat almost anything.
I personally hate the dark meat in chicken. It makes me want to throw up. But put me on an island for a month with nothing but rats and bats and I promise you I’d not only eat dark meat chicken, but I’d love it! I don’t care for okra in the least. It tastes like Vaseline-pellets to me. Offer me fifty thousand dollars to eat it and I promise you that I’d develop a taste for it real quick.
I’ve been a Christian for about twenty years now, and in that time I’ve experienced the four corners of denominational thinking. I’ve been to Catholic churches, Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist, Nazarene, Assembly of God, Four Square, Calvary, Victory Outreach, Church of Christ, and about fifty other denominations that range from cold to hot. You name it, I’ve been there. I’ve seen formal gatherings, informal gatherings, contemporary, traditional, charismatic, and just plain dead gatherings.
The one common denominator that I’ve noticed in this vast religious landscape of Christian beliefs is that they are all full of hurting and hungry people. Not just hungry people - starving people! Over the years I’ve watched different Christian “Fads” come and go. I’ve seen twitching, barking, laughing, shaking, falling, hopping and dancing. I have found that you can always gauge the level of spiritual starvation in people by what they’ll ultimately accept as food. What will they put in their spiritual mouths, chew up, swallow, and call food? I do not believe that there has been a time in my entire life quite like the one we are living in now. There has been a famine in the Church for so long that people are showing signs of extreme spiritual malnutrition. Christians today remind me of the little starving Ethiopian children we see on the “Feed the Hungry” commercials. Their spiritual bellies are swollen from a lack of nutrition, their bones are showing through their skin, and there are flies buzzing around their faces.
At this point I believe that most Christians, out of sheer desperation, will eat just about anything that’s given to them. Gone are the days of meat and potatoes. Anything will do for today, as long as it fills the stomach. I watch sincere-hearted people running from dumpster to dumpster eager to find just a scrap of whatever to ease their spiritual hunger pains. People will literally travel hundreds of miles to attend a conference where supposedly the fire of God is being poured out. They’ll wait in line for four hours and give away money that they don’t even have, only to leave blaming themselves for not having received the fire they had heard so much about.
I recently watched a series of videos of a popular preacher in Florida whom everyone is raving about. After watching about an hour of clips I was mortified by what I was seeing. Iseriously thought it was a clip of some wacky character that “Saturday Night Live” had come up with to make fun of Christians. What astonished me was how easily all the people in the audience were led astray by something so obviously screwy. The things this guy said, the claims he made, the ridiculous things he taught, and his silly slap-stick antics were so unbelievably whacked out, it was astonishing to see how blindly people followed him.
This guy is a convicted sex offender. He’s covered in tattoos (of terrible things). He has piercings all over his body and he claims that God tells him to punch people in the stomach and kick little old ladies in the face. He also talks about these insane visions he claims to have had that go against ALL of scripture. The supposed visions are so positively wacky and off the wall, that they remind me of something my three-year-old daughter would make up when she is in an extra goofy mood during story time. It would be hilarious if it weren’t for the audience full of spiritually emaciated people believing every word of it.
This is just one of many examples that I’ve found in recent days where evidence of starvation is running rampant in our religion. I understand these people because I used to be one of them. I remember my non-Christian friends trying to lovingly talk sense into me when I was following another popular “healing evangelist” of the day (the other guy). Even they knew that this guy was a crazy charlatan. My friends asked for verified proof that people were really getting healed, and I remember secretly not wanting to investigate that because I wanted so badly to believe it was really happening the way he claimed it was. I felt that asking for proof would be a lack of faith on my part, and I feared losing a blessing from God if I went down that road. It was honestly more fun to just believe it was true. It was fulfilling. I suppose I knew in my heart that things were grossly exaggerated, but I didn’t want to lose that excitement I was feeling in my spirit.
I remember that giddy feeling that would come over me when I would hear the crazy stories about visions and encounters with God that my evangelist guy claimed he had. Though it did sound a bit “off” to me, I was just happy that something was happening somewhere to someone; even if it wasn’t happening to me. I think that’s where the giddiness came from. There had been drought and famine for so long that my heart would leap at the mere suggestion of rain. Also, in a twisted way, it both gave me hope and took my hope away at the same time. It gave me hope because I thought, “Who knows, if this is happening to him, it could happen to me.” It took my hope away because when I came back down to reality, I knew that it wasn’t ever going to happen to me. It was just too big and, quite frankly, too crazy.
I remember driving for three hours and waiting in line for another six hours just to get a nose-bleed seat at one of his crusades. I didn’t want anything else other than to know that God was real and He noticed me. I remember driving home after the service feeling like I missed it. I totally understand spiritual starvation to the point where I can recognize that hollow look in someone’s eyes from a mile away. It’s an unfulfilled hungry look that is clouded with desperation and self blame. This is the look I see in most modern day Christians.
The institution of Church, in my opinion is a watering-well business. They dug the hole, they attached the bucket to the rope, and they set up the pulley and crank system so people could get water, and they distribute it to all who come. It’s a great business because everyone needs water. The problem is that when people actually encounter Jesus, he causes them to overflow with living water from within and they never thirst again. That’s not good for business!
I think institutional Christianity ultimately survives on keeping people in a constant state of starvation and dehydration. “Living Water” cannot be distributed to your customers when you’re in the business of selling water. That’s suicide. Arrowhead wouldn't last a day if people got wind of this Jesus guy who could make them not thirst anymore.
I remember pondering that “Living Water” verse in the Bible years ago and secretly wondering why I was still thirsting. That passage alone was evidence that I was missing something, and I think it’s evidence that most of American Christianity is missing something. People don’t travel three hours to hear a popular preacher speak if they’re not thirsty. They don’t pool their money together and send their pastor to Florida in hopes that he’ll bring home the fire unless they're starving to death. People also aren’t ready and willing to believe any crazy thing when they are well fed and satisfied. These things are the result of severe hunger.
When people don’t know how God feels about them, or they suspect that He has less than favorable feelings towards them, they begin to hunger and thirst. When people don’t know where they stand with God at any given moment, or they attempt to calculate exactly where they stand based on their performance or lack thereof, their spiritual stomachs begin to growl and their lips become dry and chapped. When people think that Christianity is about NOT SINNING, their spiritual bellies begin to swell from lack of nutrition. When they believe that they were put on this earth to complete a job that God created for them to do, they ultimately find themselves crouched down waiting for the food truck while flies buzz around their lips. .
The moment I realized that He loved me just the way I was, EVERYTHING left me in an instant. My hunger and thirst were gone immediately and I never again attended another conference or "how to" workshop that the watering-well system of Church had to offer. I never even searched the book store for a Christian book to read. Every single behavior that I had lived with up until that point, ended the day I realized He and I were fine. I can honestly say that I thirst no more. Jesus was right.
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