The other day I was   out to lunch with my nephew.     I had eaten half of my salad when the waitress asked if I would like a box to take the rest of it home. My nephew answered “yes” and then turned to me and said, “This would be a better snack than the empty calories you eat.” I responded by saying “empty calories, that would be a great title for my next book.” I am not sure about the next book, but “empty calories” is a great title for this reflection.

In the world of healthy living, the term “empty calories” refers to foods that are filled with sugar, fats, oils, or alcohol. This kind of eating fills you up for a short period of time but offers the body little or no nutrition.   It is hard to sustain a healthy life by eating a lot of this “junk food”.

Why am I talking about this? Because I am convinced that many of us try to sustain our spiritual lives by eating “empty calories”. In the spiritual realm, empty calories include: shallow and ritual prayers, meaningless cliches, and spiritual “rule keeping.”

The scriptures talk about this empty approach to God.  In 1 Peter 2:2 the evangelist says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.”  The Word of God is telling us to hunger for something deeper, richer, healthier, and more fulfilling than the shallow stuff that makes our faith shallow and weak. We are called to hunger for God Himself. We need to hunger for a deep relationship with our Father that teaches us to trust Him. We want to hunger for His Word which reveals His truth and His amazing love. We need to long for grace, which is God’s life and strength living within us. We should all hunger for depth in our spiritual lives.

It is time for us all to move past our child-like Bible studies and start to study and bathe in God’s revelation. In order for us to go deeper, we need to spend time in His word, go to Bible studies, read, ask questions, and search for deeper meaning. If we simply stay on the surface, our spiritual lives will be “empty calories”.  It is time we start doing spiritual reading. In fact, we put a library in the back of our church which is filled with several hundred books. The library gets very little use. Most of us simply do not give the time it takes to grow deeper.

As I write this, I want to be clear that I am not trying to point fingers at anyone. Rather, as your pastor, I am calling us all to put in time, and GO DEEPER … deeper into God, His love, His Mercy, and His Presence.

And, by the way, it is probably a good thing for all of us to watch what we eat… we could use a few less “empty calories” on our waistline.