At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you also going to leave?" - John 6: 66-67 (NLT)
We find a very interesting story following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Remember that Jesus fed upwards of 15,000 that day when you consider women and children. Suddenly there was a massive throng pursuing Jesus. The Bible says they got into boats to seek where He had gone. Within this story we can see some truths play out for the church today as well. First of all - God knows why you are here:
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous sign . But don't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Ma n can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval." - John 6: 26-27 (NLT)
God knows why we get up on Sunday. Why we get dressed and come to church. He knows why we serve in our ministries. He knows why we give as much as we give. He knows why we hold back as much as we hold back. I know we all say that we do it for Jesus but God actually knows what we really do it for. Jesus saw right through these people. They did not understand the miracle they had been a part of. All they knew was they got a free lunch out of it and they wanted more. That is human nature. Jesus cuts to the quick here though reveals what the true problem is. It is about what we seek beloved. What are we pursuing? Where does our heart lie? The truth is that we value the wrong life far too often. We pursue the perishable things of this world over the eternal things of God. What is far worse however is the church is now in the same business. The prosperity heresies all sell favor in the temporal over the eternal. Seven steps to a better you and a bigger bank account. Five keys to an extraordinary temporal existence. Realize that only so much of the blame can fall to the Joel Osteen's of the world. We are all responsible for our own walk and what we pursue. The reason Osteen thrives despite his blatantly heretical teachings is that it is what people want. People want to hear that this is their best life, they have a God who is just dying to bless them, and that precious little is required in return. Paul warned us about these days:
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. - 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (NLT)
People will look for teachers to tell them that God wants to bless their mess and they will find Joel Osteen. They will look for teachers to tell them that the grace of God allows them to cast aside their concerns of sin and they will find Joseph Prince. They will look for teachers to tell them that God is just a spiritual ATM for their personal desires and they will find any number of charlatans on TBN or whatever passes for Christian television these days. Jesus said to the crowd bluntly - I know why you sought me today and it is not the right reason. He says the same thing to us today as well. I remember when I first said the sinner's prayer in 1996 my motivation was wrong. My heart was wrong. I did not want a Savior as much as I wanted a "do-over" in my current mess. By the time I crawled to the altar in 2002 the difference was stark. I needed to go to the altar. I needed God to take from me the sins that were burdening my life. We need to realize today that we can come to church because we got fed the week before but until we come seeking the Savior - we will not be saved. Continuing in the story:
They replied, "We want to perform God's works, too. What should we do?" Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent." - John 6: 28-29 (NLT)
Beloved the message has never changed. There is only one thing required and that is belief in Jesus Christ. But look at the crowd! Give us works to do for God! How often are we that same crowd today? The modern theories of church growth all sell a works based salvation wrapped up in empty words of pseudo-piety. Salvation becomes a product to sell and the receipt of purchase is written on the back of a SHAPE application along with a three line prayer that changes no one. Even the most basics of language are changed to provide no challenge or possible offense. The lost are no longer referred to as unsaved but rather now are considered "unchurched." A distinction worth noting because it highlights the shift away from the things of God and onto the things of man by the current church. Remember that a saved person who remains unchurched will still possess eternal life but a churched person who remains unsaved will be deceived into thinking they have eternal life when they do not. And they will look to the church and say - "I want to perform God's works too - what should I do?" The modern church will be only too happy to oblige them and plug them into ministries under the guise of "discovering their purpose." They will serve too beloved because we would much rather feed our bloated Martha than realize that we had no Mary to begin with.