Flourish: Defining the Church's Role in Creation

Day 5 of 6 • This day’s reading

Devotional

The Bread of Life


There isn’t a civilization in existence that did not speak the language of food. Throughout the course of time, shared meals have been a means of bringing people together and of fostering trust and cooperation between groups of people. 


Why is food paramount to human relationships? Primarily, because it is a basic need but also because we were born that way. As newborns, the first thing we do is seek nourishment from our mothers. It is through this very process that we form our first bond with another human. 


Developing deeper relationships through shared meals 


So many of the Gospel stories involved food. Jesus shared meals with his disciples. He fed thousands. His parables involved bread. “Mealtime was a big deal to Jesus because it was a chance to deepen friendships, welcome strangers, and serve the poor,” says Jack Wakefield, member of the Tearfund Action Team. 


If Jesus considered food so important, shouldn’t we also? 


Lack of food


It is hard to fathom that people in faraway countries are struggling to feed themselves when we have supermarkets brimming with food. Millions of people across the world are experiencing hunger at an alarming rate. Climate change and conflict are the main reasons. 


85% of the world's poor are rural, and they rely on their land for food and income. Unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change results in loss of crops and income; afflicted communities are unable to stave hunger. As resources grow scarce or vanish altogether, tension increases among communities, leading to unrest and violent conflict.


Those of us unaffected by the problems caused by climate change must not ignore that this is a real problem and it is hurting our brothers and sisters in the developing world. 


A Means to Demonstrate Love


At Capernum, Jesus said to his followers, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” This remark came after he had performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. The important detail to draw from this particular story is that Jesus was not trying to teach those who were starving, he said it to people who had just received an abundance of food. Whereas, when encountered with a crowd of hungry people, he responded by calling his disciples into swift action to feed them. A grand display of his unending love and compassion. 


Theologian Norman Wirzba said food is “God’s love made edible.” God gave us the gift of food and He intended it to bless and nourish us. As Christians, it should be our desire that all would know and experience this blessing. 


STORY:


Three years ago, Polly, a subsistence farmer in Malawi, faced a hunger crisis. Changes to the climate had left her plot dry and barren. Her family was constantly hungry. A decade ago they could produce twenty bags of maize per year, and now they could only produce three. 


Polly sought help from her local church. She attended Tearfund’s Foundations for Farming course where she learned simple techniques to farm her dry, barren plot of land and make it flourish again. After putting the techniques into practice, Polly’s first harvest was seventeen bags of maize enabling her to feed her family, sell a surplus bag and invest the money in livestock – something she would never have thought possible.


“I plan to buy a sewing machine and a motorbike to start new businesses.” Polly gives thanks that she can both feed her family and plan for their future. 


ACTION:


Invite someone to share a meal with you and discuss how food and faith are interconnected. Then invite your friend to partner with you in providing a food kit to a refugee family.