7/11/04 , P6C
All Been Hungry for More
“The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn't diminish or weaken over time. It's the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you've been hungry for more .” (v. 5-6, Peterson)
ow well I remember those Saturday's when Momma would give me a nickel and tell me that I could buy anything I wanted in Woolworth's. It was a classic setting with oiled floors. The oil was to keep the dust down and to keep the little boys from falling down, because if you did you had messed up your Saturday real bad. So, with my nickel in my fist I would slide over to the nut counter. Now the nut counter was round and every shopper would walk around at least once. I would keep on walking, round and round, and smelling the aromatic wonder of nuts from all over the world. I wanted the cashews, but you could get more of the Spanish nuts for a big nickel. Besides, I liked the red shell residue they left on my teeth. Finally, I would look up at the sales woman, point to the Spanish nuts, and say, “Let me have a nickels worth of them!” I was hungry enough to eat a quarters worth, but I only had a nickel.
Haven't we all run out of pizza slices and we were hungry for more. Most teenagers never stop eating pizza until it's all gone. I have only had one guy friend who could “Forget to eat.” David Ogletree, my former Associate Pastor was relating how he had found out that you could have a pizza delivered to your door. He said, “I was reading one afternoon and realized it had turned dark and it was too late to go out to eat. And I had forgotten to eat.” “Wait a minute!” I interrupted, “You forgot to eat?” “Yes, I felt weak, and knew that I needed to eat.” “Didn't you get hungry? I asked. “I hardly ever get hungry.” David somewhat lamented. He has two books of poetry published, and now I know how, he was not interrupted like the rest of us, with hunger pangs. Appetite is a wonderfully Divine invention. Aren't we glad that we have a hunger for more!
Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian clergyman, and the popular paraphraser of the Bible, The Message , often clarifies the meaning of scriptural texts in a wonderful way. He has done a marvelous job with today's sometimes confusing letter to the Colossian Church . He takes “truly comprehending the grace of God,” In the New Revised Standard Translation and uses the much more practical concept, “…you've been hungry for more.” Which is a more vivid concept than, “…you heard and truly comprehended.” Of course, both convey Paul's original thought, but the paraphrase restates the idea in other words as a teaching device.
Paul's point is to encourage spiritual growth in those who have already experienced salvation. I hope this does not sound new to you because this is a major part of what it means to be a Methodist Christian.
Many of you know the Rev. Herchel Sheets, or have read his Sunday School lessons in our North Georgia Conference, WESLEYAN CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE. In his recent book, THE BEGINNINGS OF METHODISM IN ENGLAND, 2002, he includes several lists of spiritual experiences that John Wesley encouraged his followers to seek; or, to pray for spiritual food that they should naturally hunger for after experiencing salvation: 1. forgiveness and pardon of sins. 2. Peace and reconciliation with God. 3. The witness of the Holy Spirit, or assurance of salvation, that you are a child of God. 4. Love for others shed abroad in your heart. 5. That you may be saved from the guilt and power of sin. 6. That you might be made into a new person. 7. Strength for holy living 8. That you may be prepared for ultimate and final life with God.
Although Wesley did not use the popular phrase, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I think that all of the above could be seen as a part of that. Here again, we are using different words to express the same experience. As Peterson puts it in verse fourteen, “God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons… the Son got us out of the pit we were in, and got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep on repeating.”
However, God will not force any of these experiences upon us. Indeed, He has given us freedom to refuse, to avoid spiritual experiences and growth: “We must be hungry for more.”
We have seen plays and movies where a man loved a woman and sought her, but she would not pay him any attention. Love has to be a two way street. Mutual love is the only true love. You might talk some women into marrying you for your money but you can not make her love you. She might put up with you until she can spend all of your money; or, out live you and end up with all of your money.
Jesus is pictured in Revelation 3:20 as standing at our heart's door knocking, seeking entry into our lives. There is a famous painting of Jesus knocking. After the artist had completed the painting someone pointed out that there was no latch, or lock, on the outside of the door. The artist's famous reply was, “The latch is on the inside.” In other words, Jesus will not kick the door in; we must open the door by and act of our God given free will.
However, God does give us hunger pangs. We do have a natural desire to experience more and more of Him. In fact, just this week I bought the big can of salted cashews and ate the whole can and was still hungry for more. Don't we all hope to always have a hunger for more?
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor