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Crow: Feeding our physical and spiritual needs
Three topics come to mind for this column. The first one addresses God’s love.
His abundant love is described in Nehemiah 9: 17, “God is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
In 1 John 4:9-12 we find the following words, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
These words teach us about the importance of living the love of God through Christ in us. Since God loves us, we should feel that others are worthy of love. Loving one another reveals his presence. It is understandable that humans find it difficult to love everyone every day. We tend to love within our circle. Yet God’s words tells us to open the circle. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
The second point is the feeding of our physical and spiritual needs. In the Old and New Testament, we are made aware that the desire of God is to feed his people.
“You provided bread from heaven for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9: 15) In John 6: 35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” It is the mission of people of faith to provide spiritual guidance for those who seek it.
The third point concerns God’s plan to protect his people as a shepherd. Comfort can be found in Psalm 23:1-4, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” God sent Jesus to continue the role of shepherd in the New Testament. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10: 11)
We know that bread and the shepherd are presented as metaphors which tell the story of God’s love and concern, but they should also be used literally. We should feed the hungry, provide clean drinking water for the thirsty, and protect the vulnerable. In my experiences as a teacher and minister, I have met many people who eagerly respond in kind to the words of love and concern. I have met some who mouth the good words, but shy away from actions. If God is within us, we will heed his words found in 1 John 3: 18, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Charles Dickens wrote in Our Mutual Friend, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for any one else.”
My closing includes a brief review of Pope Francis’ address on Sunday, Aug. 1. He addressed our relationship with God and with each other. He said that we should go from a faith that is only concerned about our immediate needs to one that pleases God. He encourages us think about our motivations when we present our needs to God. One of his main points was that we should live through Christ in a loving relationship.
With Jesus in our lives, our faith will be strengthened. This type of relationship could also be a part of our personal and social interactions which keeps people at the center of our concerns.
Pope Francis ended with the following comment. “Let us welcome Jesus as the bread of life and starting out from our friendship with him, learn to love each other freely and abundantly looking to the example of the blessed Virgin Mary who lived the most beautiful story of love with God.” (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-08/pope-at-angelus-welcome-jesus-as-the-bread-of-life.html)
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” — John 15:7
Earl Crow’s column is published Saturdays in the Winston-Salem Journal. Email him at [email protected]
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