“Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.” Lamentations 4:9 NIV
Famine is a ghastly, grisly thing. We have all at some point seen the reports and photographs and heard the testimonies from those who have either survived famine or covered it for the world’s media. No-one who saw Michael Buerk’s first reports from Ethiopia in the 1980s will ever forget the images of starvation from the refugee camps there, or the shock that such a thing could still happen in the 20th Century.
And yet here we are in a whole new millennium, and famine is still a very real part of lives in the poorest parts of the world, and daily hunger a trial for many worldwide, even now in our so called developed countries, where there is a growing underclass of the deprived. Food bank use in the UK has tripled in the past few years thanks to an ever tightening of the belts of the poor forced on us by a greed driven government taking benefits and support mechanisms away in the guise of austerity measures.
In truth there is enough food for everyone if wealth were shared, and hunger really ought to be a thing of the past, rather than the accepted evil that it appears to be. And as well as a lack of food, there are other kinds of hunger, a great many needs that are simply not being met.
People hunger for a God who is represented to them in a way they can relate to. We hunger for truth and integrity, passion and justice, we hunger for holiness and wholeness and are left deeply dissatisfied by the forgeries that world offers us. In science fiction, we often see space travellers eating pills instead of real food, dehydrated nutrition that may give the essentials, but always made me wonder whether they must still be hungry. For it is not just our bellies that need food, need satisfaction, but also our eyes, our senses of smell and taste. We hunger for colour and texture and fullness. And it is the same in our spiritual lives.
As ambassadors of Christ we need to represent the Lord in terms of his fullness. We need to be living lives that make people hunger for the God we serve. Not because we have earthly riches, but because we are bearing the soul-nurturing golden fruit of the spirit, the riches of heaven bursting with flavour and running with glorious colours. We need to be talking about our God in ways that bring the hungry sprinting desperately to the feet of this Lord who satisfies, who blesses, who heals, who loves us into wholeness, whatever our worldly situation.
Yes, let us shine forth and represent with as much accuracy as we can, the Living God who fills that void that nothing else can, and who is no two-dimensional shadowy figure, the one we are told who will get us a yacht if we serve him right, the one who is just a good teacher, the one who is a judgemental old white man on a throne looking down his nose. Let us burst those famine-inducing images and knock them out of people’s hearts and heads by portraying glimpses of the Almighty, who knows us before we are conceived, who sings over us with joy, who loves us beyond measure, who watches over the storehouses of snow and rain and who will one day wipe every tear from our eyes. Let us tell people about the God who came down here and lived and died through every misery with us, and who spoke the good news of heavenly banquets and reassured us with the truth and beauty of the Father’s love, even as he said,
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21 NIV
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