The table is set. Dinner smells delicious!
You slide into your chair and a filled plate is set before you.
You stare, then lean closer. "Uhh...what is this?"
Your hostess raises a brow. "What's wrong?"
"Well...it's all...it's chewed already? Is this already chewed up?"
"Yeah. So? I thought you'd like it better like that. Less work for your jaws. I can tell you what it tasted like. You don't have to taste it yourself. Meat's kinda tough. I really had to work that over good. But now you can just swallow it down and be back at work quicker. I know how busy you are. Same difference. Same food. "
You scoot your chair backward, still staring at the pile of pre-chewed food. "No it's not! It's not the same at all. I don't want your opinion on it, or your spit! Never mind. I'll go eat my own food."
Are you wrinkling your nose at the thought?
Imagine if all you ate was someone else's pre-chewed food. All the flavor and texture would be gone. Nothing but chilly puree left for you. Sound appetizing?
What about spiritual food?
Most of us are content to swallow the opinions of others who've actually been with God and been fed by the Holy Spirit. Instead of spending quality time with God Himself, we read self-help books, take copious notes during the sermon, and even listen to pod-casts of our favorite speakers. We gulp second-hand food without ever pulling up to the feast God has prepared for us alone.
And we wonder what's wrong.
Second-hand spirituality is rarely satisfying. We grow anemic and wonder why we never quite caught on to that whole "communion with God" idea.
There is no substitute for one-on-one communication with God through his Word and prayer. Hearing about someone else's relationship with him may be mildly encouraging, but it has little to offer you personally. It would be like hearing a description of your spouse from someone who knew him, rather than actually getting to know him yourself. No comparison.
Look back over the past couple of weeks. Have you been substituting a second-hand God for the real thing? Maybe it's time to change your diet.