Once upon a time, there was a creature known as the Portuguese toothfish. When American seafood started trending, it seemed like a natural fit. The toothfish was large, tasty, and relatively easy to catch. A perfect pairing. One problem, though — turns out, no one wanted to eat something called a toothfish. So the powers that be decided it would be known instead as a Chilean seabass. Problem solved.
Mark 5:25-43 tells the story of how Jesus healed the daughter of the leader of the synagogue, a man named Jairus. The people had already pronounced her dead by the time Jesus arrived, but that did not stop the Lord. He told her to rise up, and she did. The text describes the people as being “completely astonished” — a reaction that astonishes none of us. We would be astonished as well.
The healing itself is remarkable on its own, of course. However, I have always found it interesting that Jesus asked specifically that she be given something to eat immediately afterward.
Perhaps you have heard of “food deserts.” The term refers to places where people have limited (or less) access to grocery stores and other sources of healthy food. Now there are “food swamps” — that is, where food is plentiful, just not nourishing. Food swamps feature lots of gas stations, fast-food joints, and other places that promote obesity and bad eating habits. No farmer’s markets or kale smoothie shops, though.
Studies differ with regard to whether proximity to grocery stores is actually an indicator of general health. (They sell Snickers bars at Publix, you know.) But there’s certainly a case to be made that the food’s quality may be as much a factor as its availability.
“Food” is relative — whether the food is carnal or spiritual. We can pat ourselves on the back all we want for “going to church” or even “reading the Bible.” But if we are not nourishing our spirits, what good is any of it? A preacher who does not “preach the word” (2 Timothy 2:2), substituting human philosophy and personal opinions, may be doing more harm than good. Reading for five minutes just to say you did it, without an eye for application or contextual understanding, may be feed a sense of “fullness” that is completely misleading.
With that in mind, consider the following spiritual nutrition tips:
One of the speakers at my nephew’s recent graduation quoted Dwight Schrute, a character from The Office (because no one on television has said anything worth quoting in the last ten years). Dwight said, “Whenever I’m about to do something, I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’’ And if they would, I do not do that thing.”
As simple and irrefutable as that logic is, I can’t help thinking it is needful in our day and time.