Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. – John 6:53
All of the devotions lately have lead towards the same conclusion. It may seem repetitive but that is precisely what I think is necessary so that we understand, certainly myself included, is that we need to be tuned in with Jesus. I’ve talked about devotionals, prayer, reading God’s word and more but one of the other ways we do this is by communion. The reference verse here is from the Last Supper. Jesus was telling his disciples that one of them (Judas) would betray him and that Peter would deny him three times. It is at this last supper that the first Eucharist was held. Opinions will vary in what the consecration of the bread and wine means such as they truly become the body and blood of Christ. For me, it means that Jesus is saying to eat of the flesh of the Son of Man is to dive deep in to the word of God and to drink of His blood is to confess my sins. Why do I believe that?
Tuned in With the Flesh of Christ
As Christians we talk about how God feeds us. The Israelites were literally fed with manna from Heaven while wandering after their liberation in Egypt. Christ fed the multitudes on the shores of Galilee. He fed the Apostles at the last supper as well. When Christ ascended after His resurrection the church was established with Peter but how do we continue to get nourishment from God? Through the Bible. If the words of God and Jesus were not written down then how could we even begin to contemplate what God can be and is in our lives? God has thought of everything and that includes the after-care when Christ went back to His Father, our Father. He has left us a buffet of soul food we just have to bring an appetite.
Tuned in With the Blood of Christ
How often do I confess to God? Daily. He knows I need it. I would think that all of us do. That time when I am praying during my drive is when that happens. I confess, I thank Him profusely and then I beg for His words to be part of me. For His wisdom, even a grain of it, to help me through my day. When I am heading home I thank Him for the day regardless of how great or terrible it has been and I ask him for peace and comfort. I ask that He allow me the strength to put the attitude I may have on the bad days aside so that when I get home I can love my loved ones with no negative influence. If the days are great I ask Him to give that wider buoyancy and allow my mood to become infectious to my family. All of that comes after confession. God knows what we do in public and in private. There is no secret place he cannot find us in. The best way for me to talk with God is by putting my failings up front and center so that I show I am broken, I know I will forever need His grace. He is always there ready to meet us anywhere and anytime we are ready. The season doesn’t matter.
In my humble opinion Jesus gave us many instructions such as the Golden Rule but at the Last Supper he gave us what all of those instructions really sum up to. His flesh made into the word of God is symbolized in the bread he broke and gave to the disciples. That bread when broken fed many just as the Bible has been printed uncounted times across the world. It has fed many in the same way the manna and the fish have throughout the Bible. His blood the symbol of our sin being washed away. God made it clear we must repent even after the death of Christ (1 John 1:9). Being spiritually fit keeps us connected to Him. By honoring the Eucharist, going to church, reading our Bible, doing devotions and praying we are opening our hearts and our ears to God. These things keep us aware of how He would feel about our potential to commit a sin. These things are our compass to God’s will. I’m not perfect by a long shot but I do notice that when I make conscious efforts to stay tuned in with Him I am so much more aware of the neverending grace I have in my life because of God.
Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! – Hebrews 5:12
In the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews we find some of the most important advice that is given in this book. The purpose of the book of Hebrews was an exhortation to those who began to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. In many ways it rebukes the claim that he was simply a man who was devoted to God and ultimately crucified for those beliefs. The reference of milk relies on some of the other verses in the chapter that speak of infancy and maturity.
Milk in Infancy
As a newborn we are fed milk because we are not ready for solid foods. Even as we gradually grow our diets begin with liquids then mushy food and finally real food. Milk is the most easily digestible sustenance we can stand until we grow. If we apply this to our spiritual life we can see why this was spoken of in Hebrews. The newly saved individual is in spiritual infancy and they need to be spoon-fed information and shown how to enjoy God more. How many babies learn to eat filet mignon immediately? You’ll find that it is none. They just can’t understand the food at the time so they cannot consume it and gain nourishment from it. Some people never leave this stage of spiritual development and that’s fine but God really wants us to grow and enjoy solid food.
Enjoying Solid Food
So how do we get to enjoy solid food? By becoming spiritually fit! We do that by practice. I cannot stress enough how important it is to reach out to God daily and talk to Him. Pray, worship, walk, serve and do all those things in Christ. Become kingdom minded (Matthew 6:33)! Solid food is for the mature who have trained themselves (Hebrews 5:13-15) and as stewards who are mature we must also be disciples and spoon-feed the new brethren because they don’t know the good from the evil and they will have questions. Lots of them! We enjoy solid food through those acts that are Christ-centered. We get nourishment from nourishing.
The book of Hebrews is one of the meatiest books in the Bible because it covers a multitude of concerns including the validity of Christ as Messiah, the refutation that a believer must convert to Judaism to be saved (this is not in any way a condemnation of Jewish beliefs but it is the purpose of the book), to show that we must nurture those who are young in their spiritual walk and more. How can I speak life if I doubt it myself? How can I profess my love of Christ if I question if I really love Him? Deep questions that I examined myself before I even considered beginning this journey of wanting to help other men. Not because I struggled with those specific questions but because I wanted to take a long hard look at who I am, who I was and who God wanted me to be. When we take another person’s potential salvation into our hands we are making ourselves a target for the enemy. Did I want to wage that war? It hasn’t been a battle yet but I am preparing myself spiritually by doing these devotionals and reaching out to men. By praying and worshiping God so that I can put on His armor and protect myself and those I love. That is why the soldiers of Christ need solid food and not just milk.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. – 1 Timothy 4:7
In this, Paul is telling Timothy to not waste time on myths or old wives tales but to use that time to become spiritually fit. How does that happen? With consistent nourishment and time. It is easy for us to get caught up in the trappings of the world. We often worry about things that have little meaning in the plan God has for us. Gossip (Ephesians 4:29) is often the demon we battle that tries, and often succeeds in being a parasite. One that sapps away the nourishment that we should be focusing on to reach a better state of spiritual fitness.
What does Spiritual Fitness Look Like?
It’s undefinable and not something that has a visual cue. I’m certain you’ve heard the story of a new pastor who dressed as a homeless man and sat outside of his church as the congregation went in and then proceeded to go in side where he was looked down upon as if he were less than. When the Elders of the church were confirming the new pastor this homeless man who was asked to sit in the back stood up and walked to the pulpit. The congregation was shamed. While the validity of the story may not be entirely true it does have some important lessons on what spiritual fitness looks like. It is also a message to how we deviate away from Christs’ mission. As disciples our mission is for each one to reach one. Even if we only help lead one soul to God in our life we have accomplished something great! Spiritual fitness has no definable physical trait.
How do Spiritually Fit People Act?
When I think of how I need to act so that my spiritual fitness is showing the first word that comes to mind is service. Service to others by speaking life. Giving hope by helping whenever I can in whatever role that God is putting before me. We shouldn’t try to pick and choose the opportunities that He presents us. Each is a gift and to turn from an opportunity that God has placed before us because it isn’t good enough is like turning away from Him and His plan for us. I no way profess that my place in life is better than anyone else when I talk about my qualities, it is just an expression of thoughts, I love everyone or try to, I’m not perfect. Spiritually fit people are always praying (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), they are serving others (Galatians 5:13), they have faith through their works and not faith apart from their works. Ultimately they strive to be like Christ.
Spiritual Fitness requires a regiment just as much as physical fitness does if not more so. We can become spiritually unfit in a moment whether it is by action, thought or even inaction. There are two prizes we can gain from being spiritually ready for things that come our way. The first is the life we get to enjoy here on earth. If you walk with God here the things in your life will improve because you will be speaking life, showing love and acting in service to others through God. We can have a multitude of prizes (some tangible but mostly not) lavished upon us through our life by our service to others. Our works are rewarded in heaven but those works must be done in faith and not apart from it. If we make an effort to become and stay spiritually fit our life in the here and now can be so much better.