My food is to do the will of him who sent me . . . John 4:34
Because we’re taught (correctly) that we’re saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8), we often errantly believe that works are an optional part of our faith. In this mindset, we see spiritual growth and transformation as something God simply does for us. So, when we’re struggling with anything, we pray for God to take away the struggle. When we’re overweight, we ask for God to take away our appetite for unhealthy food. When we’re addicted, we pray for God to remove the desire for drugs.
I did this in my own addiction. As I was stuffing the pills in my mouth, I told God I’d stop when he removed the hunger. I’ll change my behavior after you change my nature. I had it completely backwards though. In retrospect, I can see that I didn’t get the miraculous change in my appetite until I did what it took to obey – going to treatment, attending meetings, and changing my life. Now, I want recovery more than I want to be high, but God only brought about that transformation through obedience.
In today’s passage, Jesus used food as a metaphor for obedience. In the story, his disciples urged him to eat something, but Jesus responded, I have food to eat that you do not know about (John 4:32). The disciples thought maybe he had a secret stash of snacks, but Jesus went on to explain, My food is to do the will of him who sent me.
Just as Christ needed physical food to nourish his body, he needed spiritual food to nourish his soul. In today’s passage, Jesus insisted that doing God’s will – being obedient – is the miracle food for which there is no substitute.
The lesson for us, is that obedience – doing what we know to be right – is the food that fuels our souls. Likewise, disobedience – choosing what we know to be wrong – is the junk food that clogs the arteries of our spiritual life, packing on layers of fat, insulating us from God’s presence.
We don’t earn God’s love by what we do. If we truly want to change though, then we must be obedient to his will. Whatever our struggle, we must daily go to the father, asking what he wants us to do. Then, we must do it. Obedience is the food that fuels our spiritual growth and transformation.