Consuming God’s Son as a Way of Life: The How and the Why (Part 1)
[Editor’s Note: In the first part of a two-part series, David Bryant encourages us to feast on Christ daily as the foundation of our discipleship.]
You called, You cried, You shattered my deafness.
You sparkled, You burned, You drove away my blindness.
You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath.
Therefore, from now on, I will pant for You alone.
This prayer to the Savior from the 4th century North African church father, Augustine, is filled with palpably earthy images— seeing, smelling, hearing—and finally tasting.
Have you ever noticed how many biblical metaphors describe our relationship to Christ in terms of eating and drinking? We read of panting for him like a thirsty deer does for a stream; feasting on his bounties in heaven; drinking in the sense of his presence; savoring him like fine wine; supping at a banquet table set for us in the kingdom of God.
Consuming Christ. Think of it this way: When I consume a meal, my body ingests the food on my plate and the accompanying beverage to provide me sustenance for physical activities. As I chew on my lunchtime sandwich it helps my mind stay active through the afternoon hours at the office.
This is no less true about our daily need to feast upon the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8) and drink his “living water” (John 4). Only as the Holy Spirit pours into us day by day more of the life of Christ can we remain consistently energized to press on in our work for Christ.
This brings us to the most radical approach to Christian discipleship—one that should make following Jesus far more exciting than most believers normally experience. In this blog post I want to show you how and why you must consume Christ daily—and where this will ultimately take you.
Complacent or Consuming?
Consuming Christ. It’s the essence of daily discipleship. It’s what Luther termed a Christian’s “sweet desire” for the Savior. The phrase speaks of intense, hope-filled longings for more of him; yearnings that stay with us; a thirst that can never be fully quenched in this life.
Craving Christ, we even might call it. It’s the opposite of spiritual complacency, which often marks hearts that have become satiated from sampling the world’s deceptive delights and delicacies. Of one such group of Christians God’s Word concludes: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3, emphasis added).
Quite the opposite, a passion to consume Christ should render us dissatisfied with anything short of him. It should keep us “greedy for God”—desperate to devour (like starving beggars) God’s promises about the fullness of life he offers those who dwell in Jesus and walk with him under his lordship.
It sounds counterintuitive. But every facet of discipleship—whether prayer, or the study of Scripture, or pursuing godly priorities, or building up fellow believers, or worship, or serving the poor, or sharing the gospel with neighbors—is, in fact, a form of consuming more of Christ even as we obey him more. This should actually lead us into an increased hunger to see, seek, and savor much more of him for all he is, as well as produce much more fruitfulness for him out of our union with him.
Feasting as a Way of Life
As you know, ancient Israel practiced a fairly sensory involvement with God through their Old Testament sacrificial system. Offered at the Temple altar, their tangible gifts of worship, whether sheep or wheat, were to be eaten, literally, right on the spot, either by a priest or by the worshippers or by both.
The very animals whose blood provided temporary atonement for their souls doubled as nourishment for their bodies. Eating became an inseparable part of seeking God’s face and communing with him, a demonstration of their deeper hunger for God’s glory. Sacred supping with Jehovah comprised a way of life for the whole nation.
For Christians, however, all such ritual feasting foreshadowed what many call the Eucharist (or Lord’s Supper, or Communion). When we take the cup and bread together, the Bible says we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11). The sacrament reminds us of Christ’s coming triumphs because he was put to death for us. He is the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice.
And just like Israel, the Church acts out this gospel testimony in a very physical way: by eating and drinking as one body. In so doing, we dramatize how, as a way of life, Christians spiritually “consume” our offering before God’s altar, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it fascinating that in I Corinthians 5 Christ himself is identified for Christians as our Passover celebration, a meal we’re regularly to dine on together with joy? By who he is to us and for us Jesus fulfills Israel’s age-old feast by becoming that feast himself!
Passover isn’t a date on a calendar anymore; it’s going on year-round—as a way of life.
All of this was prefigured in John 6 when Jesus urged his followers to persist at eating his body and drinking his blood, full-time. Obviously, everyone understood he was speaking metaphorically that day since no one started gnawing on his fingers a few minutes later!
What he meant, and what he’s telling all of us, is that every day should be Passover for his followers. Through the Word and by the Spirit, Jesus wants to feed us and infuse us with his life-giving power right now, until finally at the Consummation he raises us from the dead to banquet with him forever at what the Bible calls the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19).
What a feast that will be!
But he gives us foretastes of all that right now! So let’s dig in!
(Watch for Part 2 next week).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, a ministry whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of five books, including Christ Is ALL! Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son.