Maybe the years keep passing by and we continue to serve. We eventually lead ministries. We lead outreaches. We go on missions trips. In our church we can become a pillar, serve on the board, and maybe even take to the pulpit from time to time. Anything to continue the charade of salvation started all those years ago with that three sentence prayer after the wife pushed us up for altar call. We still walk with no power in our lives because He is not in our lives. We still pursue the gods of this world such as greed and money because after all - that is what is preached to us! I mean - God doesn't want His people to be poor! Maybe we still have that quiet affair on the side because we certainly have never heard any preaching on personal holiness and the conviction of sin comes from the indwelt Holy Spirit. If we ever start to feel too much worldly guilt we just ask for more works and the church obliges. And look! We are up to 10,000 people each week so something must be right! Then the day comes when we stand before Christ and suddenly Scripture starts to crystallize in our hearts:
"Not everyone who calls out to me, "Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, "Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, "I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' - Matthew 7: 21-23 (NLT)
Lord - didn't I always ask for more works to do for you? Away from me! Works will always be a natural response to our faith but it always must start with our faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Back to the story in the Gospel of John:
They answered, "Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, "Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, Moses didn't give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "give us that bread every day." - John 6: 30-34 (NLT)
Do a trick for us! How sad that we have so many today chasing the same tricks instead of realizing that they can serve the one true God. So much of the modern church today is now chasing a spiritual experience instead of the Spirit Himself. Music is jacked up to ear-splitting levels to trick people into thinking they are having a spiritual encounter. Modern "worship" music is a droning on and on loops of quasi-biblical man centered theology. False words of prophecy are spoken over and the gift of tongues misused. We want to see gemstones, gold dust and glory clouds more than we want to see Jesus! We want to see snake oil salesmen wave their hands and watch in glee as entire sections of congregants go down at once. We want to roll around on the ground laughing uncontrollably or claim to be drunk in the Spirit. Do a trick for us! Jesus does not do a trick for them however. Instead, He starts to take them deeper into His teaching. He teaches that He is the Bread of Life and whoever comes to Him will never be hungry or thirsty again. But the people quickly murmured against His teaching. With each disagreement, Jesus took them deeper into His teachings:
So Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever." - John 6: 53-58 (NLT)
Now we start to see people walking away from Jesus. If you want to separate those who are truly following Christ from those who are insincere - just take them into the deeper things of God. Follow the logic here. Jesus feeds the four thousand and then the five thousand. He starts to gain a following but it is not a genuine following. They are not pursuing Him for who He is, but rather what He can do for them. Sound familiar? How much of the modern church pursues Christ for what they can get from Him? If you start preaching the deeper truths you are labeled a legalist and dismissed for stirring up disunity. Don't start talking to me about my sin - that hyper-grace preacher said I do not have to listen to that condemnation! Don't start talking to me about picking up my cross daily - that prosperity huckster said that I just had to give and now I am waiting for my harvest! Don't start talking to me about repentance - that purpose driven fellow welcomed me into the family of God already and I didn't have to give anything up! So after He feeds the multitudes He notices that there are a lot more people interested then before. He challenges them on this point knowing that they are pursuing the things of this world - to be fed - over the eternal things of God. The miracle didn't mean anything to them. After being confronted, they try to buy their provision and ask what works can be done? Jesus teaches them deeper that they need to have faith first, not works. They again try to play Let's Make a Deal and ask Him to prove that He is worth their faith. - do a trick for us! He has told them they need to give up the pursuit of worldly things for those that are eternal. He has taught them that they need to have faith before they can expect to be doing works. Now, He takes them deeper still.
But they wanted nothing to do with it. They tried to rationalize it. They tried to intellectualize it. Ultimately, they walked away from Him as we come to the key verses for today. A great deal of modern Christendom sells a watered down gospel that saves no one. We are raising up an army of people who want to see the five thousand fed but only as a parlor trick. They want to do the works of the church. They want to see the next big trick. The next big heresy disguised as a revival. The next big Purpose Driven Life. The next big Prayer of Jabez. The next big Circle Maker. But bring up solid doctrine and they cry out judgment! Don't shake my apple cart! Don't overturn the tables in my temple! But remember beloved that Jesus never promised us a peaceful Christian existence.