The problem with "being fed"

January 28th, 2016

There is a phrase tossed around by church people these days, and it bothers me. I hear it often when people decide to leave my church, or, alternatively, when they are discussing what they like so much about our church. "I left City Road because I just wasn't being fed." "I love my church because I'm really fed by what happens there." 

I think the concept of spiritual nourishment is vital to a church, and we experience it in a number of ways (most dramatically in the sacraments, but also in preaching, praising, fellowship, liturgy, and more). Anytime we receive a fresh infusion of God's grace in our lives, our parched souls perk up. So, this idea of "being fed" makes sense to me. But I also object to the way the phrase is used for a couple of reasons. I'll use my experience with my children as a way of explaining my objections:

  1. Only infants need to be fed. At one time, we were all spiritual infants. Paul has a lot to say about this (check out I Corinthians 3). However, at a certain point, human development demands that we begin feeding ourselves. In fact, each of my children was EAGER to begin feeding themselves. They wanted to control what they ate, how much, when and all the other factors related to eating. Self-feeding is a developmental milestone, something the doctor asks you about at your baby's checkups. Likewise, after we have "been fed" briefly as spiritual infants, we take on the task of feeding ourselves. This means that we practice the means of grace. We immerse ourselves in scripture. We fellowship with believers. We become missional, having been sent out into the world. We understand that God is the source of all spiritual nourishment, but it is up to us, as maturing followers, to feed ourselves from that bounty. 
  2. If my children got to pick what was on the menu, they would eat craisins and chunks of butter for every meal. Maybe with the odd bowl of plain powdered Parmesan cheese thrown in. My job, as their parent, is to create well-balanced meals that offer a variety of nutrients. However, I cannot force them to eat anything. Point being, sometimes God puts things on the menu that are not particularly appealing to us. This does not mean that they aren't nourishing and necessary. My mom was a big fan of liver and onions, which is one of the most nourishing meals there is. When it was on the menu, I regularly went hungry (Mom wasn't into making multiple meals for picky eaters). So, perhaps it's not that you aren't "being fed." Maybe it's that you can't stomach what you need to eat. 

That last phrase has become my retort when I hear that people "aren't being fed." Consider this:  maybe it's not that you aren't being fed. Maybe you just don't like what's on the menu.

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