by Tim Patterson
PLYMOUTH, MI – We had been collecting “coke” bottles for most of the day. Both of us had gone from house to house, and asked our neighbors if they had any lying around that they did not want. Some folks were very kind and generous while others just directed us back to the street from whence we had come.
There was one gentleman on “Avenue D” that had what seemed to be an inordinate passion for Dr. Pepper. He also knew that periodically Ricky Burrows and I would be coming by asking for pop bottle donations to our very worthy causes.
We always had a cause and as far as we were concerned, collecting enough money for the movies or for a box of “bee-bee’s” was as admirable as any foundation raising money for orphaned children.
On this day we had decided that we needed food supplies for our “fort”. It wasn’t much of a fort, just a few scraps of tin and some construction wire covered with a tarp I had borrowed from Dad’s shed. Yet we knew full well that any army must be well fed in order to do battle with the mass of marauders like wild savages, Nazi’s or motorcycle gangs. (There were thousands of them in our town!)
After several hours of collecting, we made our way to the local “Pick-Pac” convenience store, traded in our bottles, and purchased the needed provisions. We bought the largest jar of peanut butter that we could find and a loaf of bread.
Now, of course, we didn’t buy the expensive Jif, but some store brand that had about an inch of oil floating on top. This didn’t deter us, but merely gave us an opportunity to play in the pasty brown concoction until the oil was well mixed.
It was 4:00 p.m. when we finally made it back to the fort and that is when the feasting began. One after the other, Ricky and I ingested sandwich after sandwich. I think I ate four or five myself. When we could eat no more, all we could do was lay there like a couple of old hound dogs that just gorged themselves on fresh roadkill. We were full and miserable.
About that time, I heard my dad’s familiar whistle, and I knew it was time for supper. I slowly, but obediently got up, and headed for home.
When I walked in the back door, there spread out over the kitchen bar was a feast fit for a king. It was payday and Mom had prepared my favorite meal. Fried shrimp, french-fries and all the fixings. I could not believe my eyes, or my lack of appetite. I could not eat one bite of food. In fact, the smell even made me a bit nauseous. The infamous “spoiled appetite” had overcome me.
In the church today, many come to the “table” with a spoiled appetite and a miserable attitude. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard church attendees say, “I just didn’t get anything out of the worship service today. The preaching was boring, and it didn’t feed me, the music was dead, and besides, no one talked to me.”
The problem is that the majority of those who voice those kinds of complaints, come to church with a “spoiled appetite” for truth and the things of God. Throughout the week they have gorged themselves with the garbage that can be found in social media and other media outlets, and have had their minds and attitudes manipulated by spurious and spiritually poisoning opinions of those who have nothing better to do than spout their venomous hate. On social media, anyone can say anything about whatever or whomever they choose and do so with no accountability.
I have often wondered, who has that much time to spend on a social media account and still be productive in their vocation? I am thinking about one “poisonous pastor” who if he would spend the same amount of time sharing the Gospel in his community and ministering to his congregation as he spends on the internet, the vast majority of his town would be believers and his church would triple in size! (Of course, that is just my humble and accurate opinion.)
Scripture tells us that “Satan walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I have often wondered where he wanders to and where his dwelling place may be. I believe I now know. Social media. This may not be the only place he dwells or his only roaming ground, but it is one where he does a great deal of damage and destruction.
If we as believers, fill our spiritual stomachs with the hateful, hurtful, and heinous foods of a messed-up media and then gather in God’s house to be fed, it is no wonder we can’t “stomach” the spiritual food we so desperately need. (Of course, the problem does not lie with us or our lack of discipline but with the pastor and the rest of those Christians!)
That is why so many among us who claim to be Christians today are spiritually malnourished, and dying a slow spiritual death. This week, carefully consider that with which you feed your soul. It may be titillating and tasty, but it could very well spoil your appetite and sour your spirit. We need all the holy nourishment we can get to be prepared for the real marauders we face and the spiritual battles we must fight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.