This morning I was praying for the Church in Australia and I prayed that we might desire the word of God as if it were bread itself. In the midst of this prayer I was struck by the idea that Australian Christians are trying to avoid carbs and don’t want the bread of God’s word. I actually laughed out loud at this idea.
I have been taught in one particular church that I attended that Christians come to church to be fed, but we are overfed and don’t need more feeding. We need to go out and do things with what we know. There may be something in this idea, but it is a half-truth. We do need to go out and act on what we know. However, in that particular church there was no substantial teaching about the Bible at all. The sermons were shallow. Thus if this were the only input which Christians there had they would not be overfed, but rather spiritually malnourished.
But this idea may be more pervasive than I would like. The idea that Christians in the West are spiritually overfed and need to concentrate on going and doing is not that unusual. It is certainly true that Christians in the West are overfed on physical food. But we are spiritually starved. It may or may not be a good idea to reduce bread and carbs in a physical diet. I am no expert on nutrition. But we can never be overfed by God’s word. There is no possibility that we will become spiritually overfed by reading the Bible.
People who are underfed and undernourished will feed on anything just to have something in their stomachs. In our well-fed nation we don’t have any experience of this. We think that we are rich and in need of nothing, but we are the opposite in the spiritual life (Rev 3:17). This is why we are happy to be fed by anyone with a big name, no matter that they teach falsehood. I listened today to two big names (together) preaching on how to hear the voice of God. The main speaker used the Bible, but abused the Scripture in every sentence. He did not take anything in context, used the Bible to fit around his point, and used Jesus as an example only to make his point. If Christians remain on their “low-carb” diet of hardly reading the bread of the word of God, then we will feed on substitutes for the truth like this one.
Spiritual malnutrition can only result in ineffective ministry to the world. We cannot take Jesus to the world if we are ignorant of who he is. I have been reading a very interesting book lately. Among other things it describes a conference of Chinese house-church leaders. There, some of the leaders confessed that when they went to prison they did not know much about Jesus and they did not know much of the Bible. As a result, they did not grow spiritually very much in prison. They said, “You can only grow in jail what you take to jail with you. You can only grow in persecution what you take into it.” It is all very well going out to do the work of God, but you cannot do this effectively when you are spiritually malnourished.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he was able to overcome, even when the devil falsely used the Bible because Jesus knew that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). A “low-carb” diet, which reduces the amount of Bible reading we do, means that we will continually fall prey to the subtle temptations of the devil, we will continually fall for false teaching, we will be unable to discern the voice of the Spirit leading us, we will be ineffective in what God has called us to do, we will not grow into mature believers, and we will feed ourselves on things which are not the true bread. “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?” (Isa 55:2). Only Jesus can truly satisfy and we cannot know him without reading what his word says. Don’t go on being malnourished.
 Nik Ripken The Insanity of God p 252.