“Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?…” (Luke 12:42)
Following on from Being Fed, after the revelation of my own true state of spiritual starvation, through the depression I suffered, something very interesting happened. I would like to explain the spiritual principle that has been revealed to me.
God opened my eyes to see my true state of starvation. I was shattered by the knowledge that I could no longer rely upon myself –in any way. My body let me down, my mind let me down, with all my own resources at an end all I could do was cling to was Him. But this knowledge led me to a deeper relationship with Him, one in which I knew I needed to be fed and in fact that was the only hope left for me. He fed me with the Bread of Life and kept feeding me as I spent time with Him.
Then what happened next is the interesting point:
God then led me to start feeding others.
Because pride in my self, my abilities and strengths had been broken, I began to have a greater sense of compassion for others whom were struggling. A desire rose up in me to help others because of what I had been through myself. Out of that desire our food pantry ministry was born four years ago, in which we give out food parcels to people suffering food insecurity both in the Body of Christ and in the community.
And then, after some time, another hunger began to take hold of me, that was to “feed the multitudes” through street-preaching. This one came as a real surprise to me as the thought of preaching the gospel on the street to passersby absolutely terrified me! I remember the first time I went out there. I was so scared that I was shaking and I wondered why I was doing this to myself. Through the terror though there was a fire burning within me. I was so well-fed, I just had to share some of this food with others.
It somehow didn’t seem right for me to keep feasting when I knew there were others
out there who were starving. Just as Christ broke the bread and poured out the wine as a symbol of His life being poured out for us, He also calls us to be as broken bread and poured out wine for others. Being broken bread and poured out wine hurts. It’s not easy and it’s certainly not comfortable. Often it is difficult and something we would not typically choose to do ourselves. But Jesus is still moved with compassion for the great multitudes and just as He said to His disciples then, He says to His disciples now: “You give them something to eat”. (Mark 6:34 & 37)
If we look at the Apostle Peter’s life we can see this spiritual principle at work. Peter, at first, couldn’t see his own spiritual bankruptcy. Even though He had been with the Lord for about three years, seeing Him minister, learning from Him, Peter still didn’t really know his need of God. Self-confidently he had declared “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33) When the moment of truth came however, Peter betrayed Christ and denied Him three times as Jesus had foretold he would do. Peter was heartbroken. I believe in that moment his own true state was revealed to him. He saw the emptiness within, the starvation of his soul-poverty and he was broken by the knowledge. The revelation of his impoverishment caused him to retreat and return to the career from which Jesus had called him – fishing. In John 21 we see Jesus in His amazing mercy seeking out Peter in his failure. He calls out to Peter and the others with him, and look what He says, “Children, have you any food?”
Jesus immediately gets to the heart of the matter – do you have any food? Are there any inner resources left in you on which you can depend? Or have you come to the end of yourself? Have you seen your need of me yet?
The disciples are, of course, thinking merely in the physical realm, but nevertheless their answer is true both physically and spiritually – “No”, they have no food.
So what does Jesus do next? In His grace He provides the food they weren’t able to provide for themselves, and, as is God’s way, it is in abundance. “…and now they were not able to draw …in (the net) because of the multitude of fish.” (v 6).
He feeds them. “Come and eat breakfast,” He says (v12), and He “came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.” (v13) He came and fed them – but only after they had seen their need of Him.
Immediately after they are fed Jesus seeks to restore Peter. Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times and each time after Peter declares his love for Him, Jesus says “Feed my lambs”;”Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep”. Why would Jesus single out Peter, the disciple whom had been the one to verbally deny Him, to feed and tend His precious sheep? It’s because of this spiritual principle – Peter had now seen his own bankruptcy and been broken by it. More so than any of the others he had seen his inner emptiness and it was because he could see it that he was ready to be used. Jesus could not entrust His sheep to merely anyone. He needed someone who had seen their own need, and therefore would be sensitive to need in others. He needed someone who knew that without God they could do nothing and would therefore be utterly dependent upon Him. Peter would not be a harsh and unfeeling shepherd, He would now truly love and care for the Master’s sheep because his own pride and independence had been broken.
Watchman Nee said “When once your back is broken you will yield ever after to the slightest touch from God.”
So to sum up:
- Here in the West we are spiritually starving. Starved of eternal relationship with our creator, the source and sustainer of all life, we seek temporal satisfaction elsewhere. We often don’t know that we are starving. In some cases this revelation can only be achieved through painful experience.
- Once we see our true state of starvation, through God’s intervention, we then naturally seek to be fed.
- God then uses us to feed others through the broken bread of our lives
It is my hope and prayer that this post has encouraged you to seek after the only true source of life and satisfaction –Jesus Christ, the Bread of life. If you already know Him I pray that you will seek Him in greater measure and that ultimately you will share Him with others wherever He may lead you. I will conclude with a quote from D.T. Niles:
“Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”