Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him — John 6: 27
We long for spiritual food.
Just like the body, the soul also needs a regular and balanced supply of nourishment. The Lord admonishes us to labour for the food that is so indispensable for our spiritual wellbeing and development. In the gospels there are various references to spiritual food.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4)
Our souls need a balanced diet, in other words, the whole gospel. It would be unhealthy to keep only one part of the gospel—for example, the love of God—and ignore the rest: obedience, repentance, and the need to suffer for and with Christ.
Our souls long to absorb the word of God regularly. It is the source of eternal life. In order that it may become a power for us, we must labour for it in that we
- Ask for the word, such that it is proclaimed to us in the right manner and that we may be prepared to accept it in faith.
- Pray for the ministers at the altar that they may serve as proper instruments in the hand of God.
- Do our part to ensure a pleasant atmosphere in our congregation, in which the word can be proclaimed.
Accepting the word of God will contribute to our spiritual health and will help us grow in the knowledge of Christ.
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34)
In order to have fellowship with God, we must do His will unconditionally. Our souls also need this food regularly: it is not only a matter of acting in accordance with the will of God every now and then, but consciously subordinating ourselves to the will of God every day. To this end, we must work on ourselves. This food will strengthen us: when we obey God, we will also be able to count on His help.
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6: 54)
In order to have eternal life it will not suffice to merely pray to God and praise Him, nor will it suffice to lead an exemplary life. We must remain in the fellowship of the divine service, and partake of the fullness of Holy Communion and the divine word. This fullness is provided where the Apostles are at work (Catechism 8.2.15).
We must labour in order to partake worthily of Holy Communion: it certainly does require effort to genuinely repent, forgive our neighbour, and remain focused on salvation!
Partaking of Holy Communion will promote the development of the divine life within us. It is also a source of joy because it gives us a foretaste of the marriage feast in heaven.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 07 June 2015 at Midrand Congregation