Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 30, 1950
NUMBER 46, PAGE 3,6b

Hungry, For What?

Robert F. Turner, Prescott, Arizona

Hunger is one of the strongest "driving forces" known to man. Men may become beasts in order to satisfy their longing for food, and otherwise docile beasts become dangerously wild when food is taken from them. Thus "hunger" has come to have a figurative meaning, applied to driving forces other than the desire for food. We speak of some who are "hungry" for revenge, or "hungry" for companionship.

Following the break with the digressive elements in the church, the brotherhood seemed to sleep for a time. Great works were being done, great sermons were being preached, but the scale was small. Concepts seemed limited, brethren seemed content to "hold their own." Perhaps some of this was necessary for indoctrination, for making sure of the ground occupied. But now the church is awakening. World-shaking war, monetary inflation, greater ease of travel, —many things have contributed to this stirring. The church is hungry. Her appetite seems insatiable. Oceans are spanned, thousands of dollars spent to satisfy this hunger. The awakening is good. It is good to have appetite provided we satisfy that appetite with the proper food. But here a bit of caution is necessary, lest we destroy ourselves, defeat our divine purpose by having appetites unbefitting the church of the Lord.

As congregations grow in number they move out of small frame buildings into larger, more elaborate buildings of brick and stone. (These become the church edifices, and some may speak of the sanctuary.) It is good that the church property be well built, well located. But as the congregation moves from insignificance to a "place" in the community, brethren become conscious of the need to maintain their "place," and become "prestige hungry." At first it is "nip and tuck" between the importance of "making a good impression" and "fighting for the truth." But if "prestige hunger" continues to gnaw at the "innards" of the congregation, this becomes a driving force. Sometimes the same doctrines are taught as always, but they are watered, become empty shells, and hypocrisy is an inevitable result. The church, fattening upon the sweets of prestige, loses her taste for more simple, and Christian, foods.

Perhaps you know of a church that is "member hungry." Hunger, being what it is, the members of this church may work unceasingly to increase their number. Contacts are followed closely; accurate records of visitors and prospects are kept. It is remarkable what system and consistent work can do for attendance, and the church has wonderful opportunity to use sound business principles in reaching the people. But the member hungry church thinks only of numbers. Maybe the preacher will "hold back" a little in his sermons—"to keep them coming until there is a better chance to teach them," but just as he decides it is time to tell the first group the truth, there is a second group of new comers, and he must "hold up" for them, and so on. In the final analysis, "ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves." (Matt. 23:15.)

"Power And Praise Hungry"

Herod was "power hungry," and his appetite for power drove him to slay hundreds of male children in the hope of killing Jesus. Sometimes preachers become power hungry, sometimes an elder becomes power hungry, and in either case the cause of Christ suffers. I have known a few congregations that were power hungry, and sought to dominate and direct the smaller churches about them.

Preachers are particularly susceptible to "praise hunger." The yearning for praise becomes so strong it drives him incessantly. An excellent sermon is prepared and presented with the thought, "Just wait until they hear this one." Sometimes praise is more desired than money, although little proof is required to show that there are plenty of money hungry individuals and churches. Felix and Festus were praise hungry, Acts 24:27; 25:9, and John tells of some who would not confess the Christ on whom they believed, "for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God." (John 12: 42, 43.)

"Pleasure Hungry"

At the risk of being tedious, we mention the "pleasure hungry" church or individual. The tendency to fill this appetite seems to be growing, as recreation facilities are provided in new church "plants." The value of recreation is real, and "bodily exercise is profitable for a little" (I Tim. 4:8) "but godliness is profitable for all things;" and one who is "pleasure hungry" finds it easy to let pleasure take precedence over godliness. When one forsakes the assembly for a fishing trip, the "why?" is no mystery. He hungers, yearns, for the fishing trip, and is not hungry, nor does he yearn to worship God. Let's face it.

Congregations, and Christians, who hunger for these things soon become "choked," and lose their appetite for the proper diet. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Matt. 5:6.) There is no power on earth strong enough to keep a man from serving God in righteousness if he hungers and thirsts to do so. If the love of Christ constrains us, motivates our thoughts and actions, it drives us to feed on His Word, to exercise unto godliness. We look longingly to the time of worship, we hunger for opportunities to learn more of Him.

"Soul Hungry"

And we become "soul hungry." The "member hungry" church looks upon a prospect as a number, the "money hungry" church looks upon him as additional contribution, the "prestige hungry" looks upon him as an asset or liability to the congregation's "standing" in the community, but the "soul hungry" church looks upon him in compassion, as a lost sheep, without a shepherd, a lost soul And the hunger, the driving force, is to save his soul Jesus was "soul hungry." He entered into the homes of "publicans and sinners" at the cost of prestige, knowing his actions would invite criticism, but Jesus was soul hungry.

Once when Jesus was tired, and the apostles were tired, they attempted to get away from the crowds for a time of rest. People had been coming and going, and they had had no leisure so much as to eat. (Mk. 6:3034.) They went away in a desert place, but the people followed them. And when Jesus saw the multitude he pitied them, (literally, in psychological sense, "his bowels yearned for them") i.e., he was hungry for them (their souls), and so, forgoing his rest, he taught them. Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost." The parables of the lost sheep, and the lost coin, while emphasizing the joy in heaven over repentance, also teach us to search diligently for the lost. The church, the preacher, the Christian, must be "soul hungry."

The mission of the church is to go—teach—baptize—teach.

We must use our greater capacities, flex our muscles to accomplish this divine mission. Hunger for the souls of a lost and dying world must be the "driving force" behind our sermons, and our personal work. Teach the people the value of the soul and its eternal nature. Warn them of the never-ending punishment of the wicked and unconcerned. Lead them to appreciate the sacrifice our Savior made for us, to love God; and they will hunger and thirst after righteousness. They shall be filled. Teach them to be soul hungry on behalf of the world. Let them yearn to bring light to those in darkness; and the church will prosper, Christ will be glorified before all mankind. (Eph. 3:21.) This is our purpose.