Worries About Food

Most of us worry a little about food. Grocery store prices keep going up and many items we pay for keep getting smaller. We’re told that costs will continue to rise because of upcoming changes in the North American Free Trade agreement and side effects from global warming. The United Nations reports that one out of nine people on earth are undernourished and can’t live a healthy, active life. Droughts and conflicts in central African countries make food production more difficult. And the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Experts worry if we can feed everybody.

It would seem strange that Canadians would worry about food. We seem to have lots of it. Food production, in fact, is Canada’s largest manufacturing employer – 285,000 people! We have a climate that allows us to grow lots of it, and some of us even have our own gardens at home. And in addition to all these advantages, we are surrounded by a host of restaurants that want you to come and eat.

Emerging from Egypt, Israel worried about what they could eat traveling in the desert. It didn’t look too promising. Moses later remarked, “And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know…that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Dt.8:3). Jesus later quoted Moses’ words when dealing with the devil’s temptations in Matt.4:4. He was pointing out that there’s more to life than producing and eating physical food. We also need everything God said in His word.

In Jesus’ statement, at the least, the word of God is placed in equal importance to our need for physical food. In some senses it’s more important, for it can give us an eternal destiny when food can’t.

This is why we need to spend time in the word of God every day learning it, savouring it, and putting it into practice. Great lives feed on more than just physical food. We ought to worry a little when we haven’t taken time to open its pages.

Have you fed on the word of God today?

– Tim Johnson

Love Kindness

What sort of people should we be in a world full of conflict, poverty and hardship? In a peaceful land, such as our own, perhaps we are a little insulated from such things. However, we do have the poor among us, and many people struggle with illness and unemployment.

As an answer to our question, there’s a great description in Micah 6:8 of what God wants to see in His people. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The statement follows an indictment of the paltry efforts of Israel to approach God. They thought He would be happy with them if they offered a great number of animal sacrifices and expensive oils (v6-7). But without the right character and attitudes, this would fail. The world cries out for justice and kindness; so does God.

What about us? We are rightly concerned about proper worship, and obedience to the New Testament directions of what we should be as His church. But like Israel of old, this would amount to little if we neglect humility, kindness and justice.

Look at the way he phrases these things. “Do justice,” not just appreciate it. “Love kindness” (mercy), implying a great interest in being kind to others. “Walk humbly with your God,” which eliminates arrogance and a failure to notice the struggles of other people. God wants us to be obedient to Him, but He also wants us to develop the right character.

The church can’t solve everybody’s problems, nor can we tackle all the world’s hardships. But we can be just, kind and humble. Didn’t Jesus say the same? “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” (Matt.9:13)

What kindness do you plan to do for someone else today?

– Tim Johnson

Blessed are the Poor

Jesus helping poorWhen Jesus first made this statement, the poor must have laughed. What blessing could possible come from poverty? In first century Judea, poverty was common. Jesus also mentioned hungry people, and those who mourn. Loss of life easily happened from manual labour accidents, disease and war. Families were left to face extreme hardships.

Poverty is still with us, even here in Canada. Stats Canada says there are about 3.2 million people living with low incomes, including 634,000 children. That’s roughly 10% of all Canadians. I’m sure poverty was much higher in Jesus’ day.

The Lord didn’t say the answer to poverty was simply to feed people, although He did do plenty of that. In Luke 6:20-21, He said the poor would be blessed because they could have the kingdom of heaven. Likewise the hungry would be satisfied, but not just with food. Sometimes people with great possessions can feel poor in spirit, hungry for deeper things to make life worthwhile, and certainly nobody is exempt from “weeping” over inevitable losses. There is more than one way to be poor.

The poor are blessed when they turn to Jesus and find forgiveness, acceptance, love, depth of spirit, and new lives to live. They gain the ability to laugh again in a hard world; to be satisfied deep inside instead of trying to buy it with money; and feel the solid ground on which to build a better life.

The poor and hungry need our help. But they need the real blessings that can only come from facing poverty of the soul. This is our work as His people.

– Tim Johnson