Two months ago, while walking my dog, a question popped into my head: Why do we need to breathe to live? Let me clarify. Humans, as living beings, eat to nourish and sustain our bodies. What purpose does the intake and exhalation of air serve? Why were we created to need an additional source to sustain us? Furthermore, why is breathing involuntary – a contrast to the voluntary and strong desire to feed our stomachs? Immediately, the answer was clear. In the Bible, it is common for God to use parables, allegories, and things of the physical to explain those of the spiritual world.
Genesis 2:7 reads, “The Lord God formed the man…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (NIV). God created the physical man first and then filled the vessel with His breath, essentially making man in His image (also a spiritual being). In the New Testament, pneuma is Greek for "breath" that is often used in context for "spirit".
Genesis 1:30 reads, “…everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food” (NIV). God provided us with plants on this earth to feed us – both our bodies and our need for air. God created a flawless system. We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants take the carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air. This can be looked at as God’s provision to supply our basic needs for survival. Just as God has provides air for us to breathe, he has also provided us with the means to feed our spirit - His word. There is both a physical man and spirit man within each of us. Both desire to be fed. However, we must remember not to neglect our spirit man, giving a literal meaning to Matthew 4:4, "...Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (NIV).
Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible. Likewise, we can neither see our own breath nor the air around us. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reads, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV). Our focus should be on what will last, rather than that which will decay. Breathing is second nature (no pun intended) and an involuntary act. As passive breathers, sometimes we may not discern we are inhaling smoke, chemicals, and other harmful substances that we cannot see. Some of us, if breathing was not an unconscious act would forget. Similarly, when it comes to feeding our own spirit we are careless in what we ingest. Just as we put thought into what we eat physically, we should be just as vigilant and purposeful when feeding our spirit.
Why were we created with the need for air? To remind us Who is the source of our lives. To remind us there is a spiritual world, one which we cannot see. To remind us we should not be passive in our walk, but to have purpose. And to remind us we need to breathe (live) deeply.