My good friend Billy had some really interesting things to say in response to my last post. Basically, he was observing that there can be a variety of problems when Christians complain that they need to/want to/aren’t being fed.
Billy quite eloquently stated a few ideas that my brain hadn’t quite gotten to in that first post. After reading his comments, I’ve been able to process the idea a little more, and so have a few more things to say.
A place where the metaphor of being “fed” is troublesome is in the idea that being fed is a passive activity. If somebody thinks that all that they have to do, to be a good Christian, is to be fed, this is very much a problem. If somebody believes that they just have to go to church and intellectualize the things that the pastor said, they would be terribly wrong.
That said, we are told to “be still and know God.” meditative prayer and worship and even listening to a sermon… these are all wonderful things. But they are only one half of our lives, taking these things in. The real question is this: once we have taken them in, what will we do with them?
I didn’t know how to fit into the last post, but I was very much taken with an image from “little shop of horrors?” Have you ever seen that? Everybody should. I love musicals. The cheesier the better. Did you know that about me? Anyway, I digress.
About half way through Little Shop of Horrors, the main character (played, I think, by Rick Moranis in the most recent film version) discovers that the only way to keep his Venus flytrap-ish plant alive is by feeding it blood. When he does so, the plant begins to speak (and sing) about how it needs more, and more, and more. (Feed me Semore, the plant sings)
It feels so good, to be fed. It’s easy to just eat and eat and eat. On a literal level, gluttony is clearly a problem. But there is a danger of spiritual gluttony as well: when we just eat and eat and eat and never do anything with all the spiritual calories recieved through the feedings.
And sometimes people become like the plant. They want the very lifeblood of the people in the church, they want precious time, resources, and attention that they don’t really need.
Having said all this, I guess my last thought on the topic, is that the last danger, the last extreme, in the “the church should feed believers”/ “the church should not feed believers” is this:
I’ve noticed that many folks with established positions within the church are book-smart intellectuals with atleast average levels of formal education.
For people who fit this description (and I suppose I am one) it is very easy to expect a certain level of independence. When I have a question about The Bible, or when I’m struggling with an issue, I have the ability to work this out. I know how to research, I’ve got access to resources, I’ve got experience with synthesizing information to formulate a conclusion.
It’s tempting and easy for me to expect others to do the same. But there gifts and experience and what not may not lie in this direction. So when I expect people to take responsibility for feeding themselves, it’s important that I take seriously the idea that some people are better than others at doing this.