Healthy things grow. Likewise, unhealthy things do not. In fact, the things that receive inadequate care, rather than staying the same, weaken and deteriorate, eventually dying.
I often think back to my early years in motherhood. When assessing my children’s health, the doctor would ask me, “Are they eating? Are they playing?” A healthy child has an appetite for food and nourishment. A healthy child is active. These simple checks acted as initial litmus tests to ascertain whether my children were healthy.
It is the same with us in our faith. If we are healthy, we have an appetite for the things of God—and we are active! There are certain requirements in our spiritual nourishment that allow us to grow; without which we are stunted in our faith, leading us to spiritual deterioration.
This deterioration cannot happen.
In places where the gospel is polarized and persecuted, such as the Middle East, spiritual health—and growth—is critically important. The people of Iran need good soil, a hunger for Christ, healthy growth and an unrelenting desire to spread the good news. Therefore, it is crucial that the gospel remains strong and is multiplied, a firm growing foundation to those desperate for hope.
How is this foundational active faith established? And what can we learn from the rapidly growing persecuted Church in Iran?
Spiritual Appetite: Do We Hunger?
If we are healthy in our faith, we have an appetite for God; we are eating and growing spiritually by dwelling in his presence. If we do not have a hunger for our Savior—a deep desire to know his Word, heart and Spirit—we are failing to even begin to know the real Jesus.
…like newborn babies [you should] long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may be nurtured and grow in respect to salvation [its ultimate fulfillment]. (1 Peter 2:2)
In Iran, access to the Word of God is illegal. Preaching the gospel is illegal. Worship and discipleship are illegal. And hunger for these things is greater than ever before!
Opening our hearts to this cultural perspective should be quite sobering to us here in the West; when something is freely available, it oftentimes loses value. But when it is a rare scarcity that has to be sought and bought at a high price, it becomes like water in a desert. The Psalmist talks about how he longs for God just as a deer “pants for water.”
Therefore, our challenge here in the West is to remember just how precious the Word of God is and how precious our relationship with our Savior is—and to actively cultivate a hunger for him and his Word just as we would imagine ourselves panting and longing for water in the desert.