As I was thinking about Anna's sad state, I realized something. She is a picture of us - the modern American church. We too are believing in lies, and as a result are starving spiritually. On the surface we look great, with our megachurches and our music industry, our buildings and our Bible studies, but when you look deeper, what do you see? Is there freedom from sin? Is there peace that passes understanding, faith that moves mountains, love that bears all things, joy that runs over? These are the realities that should characterize our every minute of every day. But most people can't even comprehend such an existence, let alone live it out. They have no concept of standing up to the forces of darkness with the authority of Jesus Christ and "always being led in triumph". Instead they lie helpless on the ground, being kicked around by the enemy. In this helpless state they can hardly look beyond themselves to see the lost, needy, and oppressed in the world, much less go and rescue them.
Just like in Anna's situation, though, the solution has been available to us the whole time. Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life." If we take Him in, we are nourished, satisfied, and made strong. The reason the church is weak and dying is the same reason the world is weak and dying: they need Jesus. We have believed the lies that the world believes. "You don't need to know Jesus personally. It's enough to know about Him." "You don't need to read the Bible yourself. It's enough to be aware of the gist of it." "It's okay to read the Bible, but it's a little too extreme to believe it literally and obey it." No! The world's standard of beauty is deathly thin, and it kills. There is a better way. There is strength to be had, and it comes from Jesus.
But how do we take in Jesus? Again, the answer is right in front of us.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. - John 6:35
He says it so simply: you must come to Him and believe. Jesus is the Word of God in Person, the perfect expression of the whole Scripture. The Word of God in text is the treasure map that leads to Him. When we read it, hear it, believe it, and obey it, we are changed. There is more of Him and less of us. The Spirit of Christ is our Helper, and He fills us. And more and more, we know Him.
"We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still. " - St. Bernard
"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." - Psalm 34:8
Dear reader, do not assume this message is for others less mature than you. If anything, the strong need more sustenance than the infants. There is always more to be had of Jesus, higher degrees of maturity, deeper measures of satisfaction. It is not an instant one-time event, but a process of growth and increase. Continual growth requires regular meals. If you lack appetite, don't just shrug your shoulders and give up. Pray as A.W. Tozer did, "I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing;" That's a prayer that God delights to answer, for He loves to fill those who are hungry for Him.
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 let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live; -Isaiah 55:2-3a