Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Work Of God

"Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.' So they asked him, 'What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'" - John 6: 28-33
The generations before us had a reputation for hard work. Our grandparents, for the most part, were known for their "pick yourself up by your boot straps" mentality and work ethic. Such is their reputation, that their generation was named "The Builder Generation." It's an attitude that permeates our American culture. When it comes to social justice, benevolence, or welfare, most USAmericans believe that you get what you earn. And we, like them, often times shift into "make it happen mode," knowing that God helps those who help themselves (that's not Scriptural thinking, though). I know that I find myself in that mindset often: If I am going to succeed or survive, I've got to do more and do better. I awoke this morning amazed at the fact that I have a house to live in, and took a certain amount of pride in the fact that I make my house payments and I am a provider. I actually earn enough money to provide a house, utilities, clothing, food, cars, etc. for my family. And it feels good. Then, during my quiet time, I came to this passage. Isn't it funny how often the Bible speaks to us in a relevant and timely fashion? In my morning of triumphant thinking, God brings His Word to my mind to remind me that I do not really provide for my family. It's Him who provides. The Jews of Jesus' day were guilty of similar thinking. They had given credited Moses for their provision instead of God. And now they were asking Jesus to provide for them like Moses so they would know He was from God. As always, Jesus' response is prolific: I am your provision. Initially, they ask Jesus what work they must be doing to be in good standing with God. He tells them that God's work is to believe in the one He has sent. So they tell Him, "If God sent you, provide for us." And Jesus reveals His nature to them as the provision they are seeking. That ought to be comforting, wouldn't you think? But, by the time this dialogue is over, Jesus has offended everyone and only His 12 remain. Does the thought that it's all up to Jesus offend you? Your gut reaction may be an emphatic "NO!" But think about it this way: do you really, truly, honestly trust Him and look to Him as your provision? If the answer to that is an emphatic "NO!" then maybe there's some work to be done; the work of believing in the One God sent to be your provision. In the midst of hard times, struggles, and turmoil, where do you look? Are you looking for a miracle? Are you trying to figure out how you could work harder to make things happen? Or do you look to the One who is your provision and trust Him to provide? Easy words to say, hard words to do. But necessary, none the less. Remember the words of Solomon, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways remember Him. Then He will make your paths smooth and straight." (Prov. 3:5-6 NIRV)

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