You have probably heard the humorous observation of how Christians sometimes pray to ask God to make up for our bad choices. We’ll grab a bag of cheese puffs and a high-sugar, high-caffeine soda and then pray to ask God to bless it to the nourishment of our bodies. If we truly want our bodies to be nourished, apart from a transformative miracle from God, then we must dramatically increase the quality of food we are feeding our bodies.
While that is humorous and hits closer to home than we would like, I wonder how often this is true of our spiritual lives. How often are we snacking on spiritually equivalent cheese coated puffs of air while praying and hoping that our souls will be nourished somehow? One place this is very apparent is our approach to church.
God has designed the church to facilitate the spiritual growth and maturation of its members. This is not the only purpose of the church, but it is a very important purpose. Paul taught this in his letter to the church at Ephesus:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
~ Ephesians 4:11-16
One of the consequences of “the edifying of the body” is “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” The apostle has spiritual maturity in mind. He wants to see the Christians grow up and become men and women of the Word.
So the church is one of the means of sanctification in our lives, yet so few people think of it this way. Many want a church just like they want their snacks—sweet and light and causing a momentary good feeling. A person cannot live on snack food, at least not very long or well.
Paul put this craving this way:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Paul warned Timothy that people would not endure sound teaching, but would seek out snacks for their cravings. He described these people as having “itching ears.” You would think he was talking about America, because we certainly have itching ears. Apparently, we are scratching those ears with cheesy fingers.