"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
- Psalm 34:8
I came across a story from a wonderful book entitled, Mission without Conquest: An Alternative Missionary Practice. It described a man from the Argentine Chaco region, one who came to faith through the peaceful efforts of some Mennonite missionaries during the 20th century. Along with many of his people, he became a follower of Jesus.
As this disciple grew in his knowledge of God and God’s Word, he was not only able to identify injustices long accepted by his oppressed people, but to stand against them with Spirit-born confidence. Here is part of his story, quoted at length:
One time there was a man here in Formosa whom I’ll always remember. He had money, a pickup, a large truck – he had everything. But he marginalized the paisanos, the indigenous people. Even though he gave them work, he looked for those who liked to drink and hired them. When they began working, he gave them a bit of wine, and by the time they realized it, they were too drunk to work, so he took them home and got them again the next day, but never paid anything more.
One day I was waiting at the bus stop to come home, and that man came up to me and said,
– “You’ve been here awhile?”
– “Which bus are you waiting for?”
– “The one that goes to Lote 68.”
– “You live in Lote 68?”
– “Are you Indian?”
– “Yes, why do you ask?”
– “Because I’m looking for peones (“ workers”) and I don’t find any. I need six or eight, and I’ll have them work for bread and wine.”
– “And that’s all you pay?” I asked him. “Only wine and bread to those poor men? And what will they put on if they don’t even have a shirt and pants? You won’t find that kind of worker anymore!”
– “Because that kind of worker woke up and now lives in Christ, and Christ lives in him.”
– “And just where did you learn that?”
– “From the Bible,” I told him, “and from my pastor. My pastor lives in Lote 68. If you want to know about it, you’re invited. The door is open. But those workers you hired for wine and bread, you won’t find anymore. They’re all believers now.” You know, when I told him that, it upset him.
What an amazing account! Enlightened by his growing understanding of God’s Word, and emboldened by his understanding of his regal status as a son of God, this man ably and confidently stood against the oppression of his people.
Although far removed from us geographically and culturally, there are strong parallels between our stories. The world invites us to work for it and, in return, offers us its own versions of cheap bread and cheap wine for our souls. These might come in the form of power or prestige or pleasure or possessions or something else. None of them ultimately satisfy us. They just intoxicate us temporarily, and their stupor can blind us to our ever-deepening spiritual poverty.
Thankfully, Jesus, portrayed in the bread and wine of communion, supplies us infinitely better. He gives us more than the fleeting and empty glories of earth. He's secured for us the everlasting and incomparable glory of heaven.
As we feast on the Word of God by faith, the Spirit nourishes our souls. We grow to hunger and thirst for Jesus and his righteousness more and more, and the world's cheap bread and wine less and less.
Sure, we can run back to our former feast tables. I do all the time. However, Jesus delights to welcome us again and again to his, knowing that every taste of the goodness of his grace spoils us for anything less.
Child of God: We may enjoy many earthly blessings, but these will never provide ultimate and lasting satisfaction. Only God can fill and satisfy our deepest hunger and thirst. Thankfully, we don’t need to beg the world for what our great God has already so freely given.
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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