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We need more than bread

It’s dingier and less effective than we thought it would be.”


While these words sound as if they might be a critique of the latest laundry detergent, they’re not.  They are the words of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham in his assessment of the failed promises of technology.  I am constantly aware that in many ways we find ourselves living in the future that was envisioned in the fifties . . . it’s just dingier and less effective than we thought it would be." 


Cunningham is not the first to be deceived into thinking that a fulfilled life is just around the technological corner.  While the application of science has done marvelous things, our deepest needs cannot be met by something newer, bigger, faster, sleeker, and shinier.  We are not made in the image of a machine, but the image of God.  Our technological toys might temporarily anesthetize our spiritual craving but they are inherently unable to provide us with the peace we need. 


Israel journeyed through the wilderness, God fed them daily with manna – bread from heaven.  He later told them through Moses that He did this to humble them, “causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna . . . to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord,” (Deuteronomy 8:3).  As Israel gathered and ate the manna, it should have become clear to them that while their lives were being sustained at a physical level by the manna, in a deeper sense they were living off God.  Specifically, they were living off His promise to graciously supply them with manna throughout their time in the wilderness (Exodus 16).  Thus, they were not living by bread alone but by the words of God.   


When Jesus was in His own wilderness He was fiercely hungry, not having eaten in forty days.  Satan suggested that such deprivation was unnecessary if He indeed was the Son of God – He could simply turn stones into bread and His stomach would be full.  Jesus reached back to the experience of His ancestors in the wilderness and tells Satan, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4).  Bread would fill his stomach but it would not satisfy the hunger He had - only His Father could do that.  He would not settle for bread when God wanted to give Him so much more.


Does it seem ironic to you that we commemorate the birth of the One who wouldn’t settle for “bread alone” with “bread alone” exchanges?  Yet the truth remains that our greatest need cannot be met by a flat panel TV, an X-Box, another car, another house, or another anything.  The real gift we need isn’t under a tree; it’s on a tree. 


Don’t settle for bread when God has so much more. 
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