Gotta eat to live . . . but is living what matters?

What do we need to survive? What do we need to keep living in this crazy world? Do we need food and water? Shelter? Clothes?

Well, yes. All the above. If we want to keep living, we have to eat. Part of our limitations as humans include the necessity of eating. But the world would convince us that we can’t just eat anything. We have to eat in the best circles, the most expensive restaurants with the most exotic fare.

The world would have us believe that we need a host of other things to survive. We need money, for instance. And we need a huge, fancy house and a fast car. We need cell phones and computers. We need the latest fashions and the hottest trends.

And that’s not really the case.

So what do we really need to survive? Yes, we have to eat and drink, or we’ll die. This is what I got to thinking about today when I read the day’s verse.

Matthew 4:4 

 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
   ‘People do not live by bread alone,
      but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

We may need to eat to survive, but we have life because God has breathed it into us. We can live by keeping our bodies alive with food and water, but we weren’t created simply to live. We were created to thrive.

This is one of those verses that has been used so many times I think a lot of its poignancy has been overlooked. To put it in context, Christ said this to Satan during His temptation in the wilderness. This was arguably the most important point in Jesus’ life on earth because if Satan had won–if Jesus had given in to temptation–He would have sinned. And that would have made Him incapable of paying for our sins on the cross.

But Christ didn’t sin.

Interestingly enough, the verse He quoted was Deuteronomy 8:3, which reminding the people of Israel what God had done for them when they were wandering around in the wilderness without food.

 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

The people of Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years. The only food they had to eat was manna, a bread that fell from heaven overnight, which the Israelites could gather every morning. They could only take enough for that day, and they had to trust that God would provide more for them the next day.

But even though the manna fed them through the wilderness, it wasn’t the bread that kept them on their feet. Think about it. Millions of people wandering in the desert with no extra clothes, no extra shoes, no extra wagons, no extra supplies and no human contact aside from with each other. 

It was God who kept them on their feet. It was God who protected them and cared for them. Yes, it was God who made them wander in the wilderness to begin with because the generation who was leading at the time was not the one who could inherit the Promised Land due to their lack of faith. God provided bread for them, but what kept them going was His grace.

Fast forward a couple thousand years, and Jesus had been in a desert for 40 days without food. And Satan saw it as the perfect opportunity to get Jesus to fall. But Jesus used this story to illustrate the fact that while we may need food to live, we need God to survive.

Fast forward another couple of thousand years. Here we are in 21st Century America. We have luxury sedans. We have cell phones. We have high-speed internet (I live in the middle of nowhere and I have high-speed internet . . . and it’s finally working again today! Hooray!). We have fancy houses. We have access to delicious foods from all over the world. We have movie theatres and blu-ray discs for home entertainment. We have air conditioning. We have ice cream, people!

But nothing has changed. People are the same. Satan is the same. And God is the same as He was when He provided for the people of Israel.

God created us to have a relationship with Him, and Satan will stop at nothing to interfere with that. And he will lie to us and tell us that we need all the extraneous things that life can offer us. But it’s not true.

Now it’s not necessarily bad to want some of them. I can tell you what, a bowl of ice cream would have been pretty stupendous during our 110 degree day yesterday. But my whole life and future doesn’t hang in the balance of whether I get a bowl of ice cream or not. I don’t need it.

What I need and what everyone else needs is God. We need Him in our life. We need Him in our hearts and in our minds. And if we can get our heads around that, it doesn’t matter if we’re eating herb-crusted cibatta bread . . . or if we’re eating plague-infested corn tortillas in the middle of the jungle somewhere. Food will sustain our bodies, but God sustains the real us.