Food that repels you when you are full suddenly becomes desirable, even necessary, when you are hungry.
On a wilderness survival course many years ago, I was so famished that I could not wait to cook the rainbow trout I had caught, so I devoured it raw.
America today is a land of abundance, and most of us have more than enough to eat. But we live in the midst of a spiritual famine — a famine of God’s word.
The prophet Amos spoke of such a time as this.
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Notice that the famine is a lack of hearing God’s word, which suggests that either it is not being spoken faithfully or, if it is spoken faithfully, it is being ignored.
In Amos’ day, it was most likely both, as I believe it is now.
God’s word is life itself, but when we reject it, God will withdraw it, allowing us to experience life apart from “the bread of life,” his life-sustaining Gospel.
Today the media, the education establishment, the entertainment industry and our own government banish and even disparage biblical truth or label it as bigotry.
Biblical truth is marginalized, if not forbidden, in the centers of power today.
Yet that is not the greatest scandal.
Christian ministers self-censure in the public square, neglecting to pray in Jesus’ name or to speak his name at all in order to appear respectable and gain favor with the elites.
Even in so-called evangelical churches, much preaching today is about the Christian rather than the Christ, and important biblical themes such as God’s wrath and the Day of Judgment are avoided.
Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School, writes that preachers today deal with God’s wrath the way the Victorians handled sex, treating it as shameful, embarrassing and best left in the closet.
Yet God’s wrath will not remain in a closet.
It is already evident in the form of lawlessness — whether in our city streets or in our highest public offices.
The more you watch the evening news, the more famished you become, and the more you hunger for some word of comfort and for truth that is no longer spoken openly.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger.”
Jesus satisfies not just any heart, but the heart that seeks relief from the wrath and judgment of God.
Without God’s wrath, we will have no hunger for God’s mercy, and the cross, where God’s mercy is revealed, will have no appeal.
But for those who hunger for transcendent truth as well as the forgiveness of their sins, the table is set and the host invites.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
The Rev. John Armstrong is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, and may be reached at gracecolumbus.org.