Campmeeting Worship, 8/3/03, P8B
he primary problem that most people in today's world face is hunger. It is hard for us to imagine, but most children go to bed hungry every night. Of all the people who have ever lived, we Americans have the most physical abundance. Yet, drinkable water remains scarce in many third world countries. One of the ways that Christian missionaries are able to gain visas into third world countries is by offering engineering and machinery to bore deep wells. Humans must have food and water to survive.
Likewise, all of us have an innate longing for the Divine that can only be satisfied through knowing Him. If we are to walk with God we must find daily sustenance from a higher level that will enable us to not be spiritually hungry or thirsty.
After Jesus had fed the multitudes they were hungry again in a few hours, and sought out Jesus so that they could eat another miracle meal. Jesus criticized the people for seeking him for the satisfaction of physical hunger only. Jesus had preached to them about an ongoing friendship with his Father which would keep them from ever being spiritually hungry or thirsty again, but they were confused.
Still today many sincerely seek salvation but do not know how to climb up the ladder to find God. Discovering God does not come from the work we do but from believing in Him whom God has send down to save us. The Good News is that He already knows us and loves us and is seeking us through His silent voice within our souls. He awaits our response.
My favorite Robert Frost poem makes this observation:
Note that Frost capitalized the word "Secret," that is the Divine which all humanity hungers and thirsts for. We want Him but need help finding Him. To seek God is to look toward a higher level and to desire soul food. Our search for God heightens our other accomplishments because we are focused on a higher calling.
College students do well scholastically because they are working toward a specific goal of attaining a degree. Their daily study regiment is empowered by anticipated results in the near future. The person seeking to satisfy his/her hunger for the Secret is moving toward a higher plane, focused on a greater vision.
Likewise, a young married couple, just starting out, can live on love as they march forward hand in hand toward their hopes and dreams. Yet, their true goals will not be found if they dance only to a secular beat. They have to, at some point, be catapulted forward by a mutual commitment to walk with God on a higher plane. If we seek God we will find Him.
In the early days of frontier religion families would circle their wagons around a brush arbor Sanctuary during the hot days of August and have several weeks of great preaching and singing designed to revive their souls. This was the time when their children came to know the Lord. Some of you met Christ at Campmeeting.
Years ago, as the young Associate of Northside Methodist, I visited an elderly gentleman one afternoon who had recently lost his wife. He was huddled in his Buckhead mansion alone and sad. Reminiscing about his childhood in South Georgia he spoke of Campmeeting days and how he had walked the sawdust aisle to accept Christ as his Savior. He had later built a railroad company and founded Kraft foods, but had never gotten completely away from his Campmeeting days. He made a recommitment to Christ that day in his den. He was back to Sunday School on Sunday and soon helped form a class for seniors. His spiritual life began at age ten and was restarted in his seventies. Christ is always waiting for us whenever we seek Him.Jesus, God's revelation of Himself in human form, is God's way of declaring His love for us. In Christ we are confronted with our spiritual hunger.
"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life,
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
(v. 35, NRSV)
When we first experience Jesus it is as if we are being introduced to sugar for the first time. We were not aware of this new taste, but suddenly we are ravenously hungry for this exciting flavor, and we must have it. One of the great things about spiritual food is that we can consume all we want and never get spiritually fat. We have big hearts for God and we want to stay full all of the time. As we devour this nourishment our faith develops as we live out the Christian's Secret of a happy life. Often there are crescendo moments along the journey. Methodist Campmeetings were designed to be watershed experiences of heightened spirituality. Many of our most precious Campmeeting and Revival hymns were meant to lead worshippers near to the gates of heaven. Campmeetings were called "seasons of blessing."
Life's greatest joy comes as a result of being fed by Him who can spiritually satisfy.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor