I love food. There are some people who are timed about trying new things. Not me. This is a trait my kids inherited from me which is seen in our monthly grocery budget. I love meeting new people as well. I know one of the worries my wife always has when a new couple invites us over for dinner is what they will be serving for dinner. Because unlike me, Lacy is a self-professed picky eater. There are only a select few foods that I will avoid like the black plague. Actually, only three; meatloaf, anything with mayonnaise, and tomatoes.
A few years ago, Lacy and I were invited to have dinner with our new friends Bob and Sarah at their home. Dinner with new friends is kind of like a first date. Of course, pleasantries are at their highest seeing that everyone wants to make a good impression and create a lasting friendship. After visiting for some time, we are adjourned to the dining room for supper. Bob commented to me, “I hope you’re hungry! Sarah has been cooking all afternoon. She really hopes y’all like her cooking!” To which I responded, “I’m positive it will be delicious!”
I was greatly anticipating a wonderful dinner! Sarah had been slaving away in the kitchen all afternoon, so I figured it had to be good! Finally, Sarah comes out from the kitchen with a little appetizer. First course, deviled eggs…made with mayonnaise, and pear halves, covered in mayonnaise. I politely passed on the appetizers, saying that I wanted to save room for the big main course she had been preparing.
Finally, Sarah brought out the main course. Meatloaf.
I felt like I was inside the sinking Titanic, trapped with nowhere to run from immanent destruction. I picked at the food scarcely, despising every tiny morsel that I forced down my throat. My appetite was now non existent, and if my stomach could have spoken, it most assuredly would have been cursing me. After forcing myself to take a few small bites, I could no longer pretend. I had no desire to eat the meal because it tasted horrible to me. Bob and Sarah quickly noticed without me saying a word that I was not into the meal. Thankfully they were very understanding. And the red velvet cake we had for dessert more than made up for the awful dinner.
I tried to force myself to eat a meal that in reality, I did not think was good. And honestly, if you do not like something, you will not indulge in it. I attempted at first to make them think I liked the meal, saying to Sarah between swigs of water to force the meatloaf down, “This is wonderful!” But my lack of appetite for the meal betrayed my false words of praise.
Inside of the church, there are many people who would profess that they love Jesus. But in reality, they have no hunger to know Him. As a pastor, one of the most commonly asked questions I receive from people is, “How do I truly know that I am saved?” The scriptures are fully of evidences of the new birth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 sums up most of them by saying the we literally become a new creation in Christ. We take on new desires that are indicative of Christ living within us. I could spend all day writing of these indications of the new creation, but in this blog, I want to focus on one.
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3.
In John chapter 3, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night to inquire, “How can a man be saved?” Jesus compared salvation with being born again. In church circles, we call this word regeneration. The apostle Peter builds on this concept of being born again in his first epistle. Peter writes that if we have truly been born again in Christ, just as a newborn baby is starving for milk, so is the new believer hungry for the knowledge of God. The sign of a true believer is that the person has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and as a result, now has a hunger to know Him. And this goes well beyond nominal church attendance.
Martyn Lloyd Jones in his book “Experiencing the New Birth” addressed this issue in depth. He said that there are many people in church on a weekly basis who have no appetite for God. They merely endure the weekly trek to church. During the message, their mind is more on things in their life, and they count the seconds until the preacher says his closing prayer. Not only this, but the notion of seeking God on their own is literally non existent. This type of religious person has no desire to deepen his or her knowledge of God, no desire to dig into the scriptures daily, and no desire to read books on theology and the things of God. There is no objective hunger for spiritual growth in their life, they merely do what is expected.
The Bible describes growth in a persons knowledge and love for the Lord with a term called sanctification. And the Bible is painfully clear, where there is no progressive sanctification, their has been no true justification. You may ask the question, “Am I truly saved?” Let me ask you one in return. Is Jesus Christ now like a fine meal that you cannot get enough of? Have your taste buds been changed that you now hunger for the knowledge of God that you once despised?
The Bible speak elsewhere of how the true believer sees Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46.
There are some who come to church for most of their lives. They are religious, they are moral, they are committed, but they have no hunger for God and no desire to know more of Him, and they are not saved. Then one day, something in the word of God catches their attention. Although they have attended church for years, they begin to see Jesus in a beautiful light.
Suddenly, Christ becomes more than just a Sunday morning God and He becomes the driving force in their life! I will submit to you that this person has stumbled over the treasure in the field that is Christ. They may have walked that field hundreds of times previously and had never seen it. Going to the field used to be work to them. It used to be nothing more than a chore to them. But now, they want to spend all of their time in the field and with this treasure.
When we begin to seek the treasure that is Christ, our priorities and desires start to change. Have you seen the treasure that is Christ, or is seeking Him confined to the bare minimum and to you a toilsome field? Is Jesus an extravagant, three course, delicious meal to you that you cannot get enough of? Or is He a tasteless dish that you must force yourself to eat weekly?
Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, “You do not enter the Kingdom of God and then only have a desire to maintain the rest of your life. You launch out into the deep. The prize of the high calling of Christ! My friends, is there evidence of growth and development and enlargement in your life? Or do you say of the Knowledge of God, “Thats enough for me, I do not have time for anymore.” If you can say this, that just means you do not know what is in the treasure house.”
How I wish I could have supernaturally changed my taste buds the night we ate with Bob and Sarah. Had I been able, I would have created new taste buds that now hungered for the meatloaf I despised. This is precisely what God does when He transforms a person into a new creation. God literally changes our hearts and our desires. When Christ opens our spiritual eyes to truly gaze upon Him, we begin to hate the sins we once loved and hunger for the righteousness we once hated. The sinful things of the world that were once so precious to us we now begin to view as nails that pierced our savior, and they are counted as rubbish. Because the treasure of Christ is more desirable than anything. The strongest hunger of a true believer is to know Jesus. It is an awakening of the spirit brought about by the new birth.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection” Philippians 3:7-10.