“The food I love to eat is doing the will of the One who sent me.” John 4:34
This verse doesn’t make sense. I mean, feeding is passive, isn’t it? It’s receiving something. When I eat, I sit at a table and consume.
But for Jesus, the idea of eating is active.
And this confuses me.
I was taught that feeding was when we studied the Bible. I was taught that getting fed was to be nourished by listening to sermons, reading books and doing small group devotionals.
So if Jesus would have said, “This is how I get fed: by reading the Torah and letters that haven’t been written yet and teaching it to my 12 friends, 3 of whom will write these letters later,” then that would have made sense.
But that’s not what He said. He said that getting fed for Him is to do the will of the One.
Could it be that Jesus is redefining what it means to be nourished? Not in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense?
Could it be that Jesus is redefining what it means to be spiritually mature?
Maybe He’s saying that spiritual maturity is when your favorite way to get is to give. Could that be the Great Secret: that the way you receive nourishment in the depths of your soul isn’t when you consume but when you contribute?
Could this explain why consuming has gotten stale for so many? Why we bounce from spiritual community to spiritual community or dismiss community altogether, thinking it’s because we’ve heard it all when maturity comes not from hearing it all but from doing what we’ve heard?
Let me say it plainly: “Feeding” is not a Bible study. Next time you hear the phrase “I’m not getting fed” or “I just love being fed,” don’t ask them what sermon they just heard or what verse they just read. Ask them who they served with God, what risk they took for God, or what adventure of compassion they just returned from, with the smell of God on their clothes. This was how Jesus nourished Himself. It was His favorite meal.
And if this is how Jesus eats, then how might He feed? When He asks Peter to feed His sheep, what is He talking about? Well, if eating is active, then feeding is active. And if feeding is active, then maybe feeding might sound less like “listen to me” and more like, “Come, follow me.” Feeding might begin to sound less like “Come and eat” and more like, “Go and give.”
Feeding starts to look an awful lot like leading.
Imagine pockets of people all over the world who understand and celebrate the idea that God is a servant and to be like Him is to serve. Imagine groups of friends who challenge each other to live more inspiring lives, to open themselves up to the life God wants for them and to receive the energy from God that they’ll need in order to do what they couldn’t have imagined they’d get to do.
Imagine a world full of contributors, of healthy givers. A world overflowing with philanthropists, activists, leaders. Heroes.
Imagine a community fanatical about getting fed the way Jesus defined it: not with narcissistic studies or endless sermons but in partnering with God to create as much compassion, hope and beauty in the world as divinely possible.
And while you’re imagining, don’t forget to eat.