Petra and I baked bread last night. It’s simple—mainly whole-wheat flour, corn meal, and olive oil, with a bit of barley, white flour and salt—but it’s mighty toothsome. Eating physical bread reminded me of metaphysical bread, so I opened up the Gospel of John to have a feed. I read the story of the Samaritan women at Jacob’s well.
After the women left her water pot at the well and bee-lined it back to tell her lovers that she’d met the Messiah, the disciples offer Jesus food. Jesus turned them down, saying he’d already eaten. That puzzled the disciples, because they were all out of munchables—in fact, He’d just sent them into the city to stock up.
Then Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:35). TV preachers often talk about “breaking the bread of life” for their listeners, and most Christians think that the Bible is the “bread of life” (see Matthew 4:4) but Jesus’ statement shows that there is more to eating the bread of life than reading the story of the woman at Jacob’s well. Spiritual meditation and/or reading sacred writings seems to result in access to the bread of life. But actually chewing and swallowing involves doing God’s will—i.e. meeting folks’ physical and spiritual needs. (See Matthew 25: 31-46).
This is where most of America has missed the boat. There are plenty of Bible thumpers who never give world hunger a second thought and plenty of altruistic humanitarians, but these aren’t getting the metaphysical nourishment any more than window shoppers at a bakery or air-swallowers at a burping contest. Most Americans are trying to get through the glass wall to happiness or choking on their own hot air.
Maybe it isn’t that simple. On the other hand, the potential benefits are so great that only idiots would refuse to try…