Reflection: “I am the bread…”

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

In the 19th century, China hungry people were coming to Christian Churches in large numbers. Churches of that time were providing food when food was scarce in the community, and the church was one place where people could be fed. The problem was after they no longer needed the free food they left the church. Church leaders gave these people a name; they called them “Rice Christians.” They were consumers of the church rather than disciples.

When speaking with people about the church I often hear the comment, “I get nothing out of church so why should I go?”  My typical response is that we get out of it what we put into it.

Too often we who are in church leadership fall into the trap that church has to be entertaining. What this is saying is that we are playing into the consumer church mentality and as soon as the church stops being fun people will leave and move on to a place where they can be entertained. The mission of the church is not to entertain, the purpose of the church is to make disciples and making disciples is hard work.

Jesus encounters a group of people who heard about the feeding of the 5,000. They are attracted to Jesus because of the miracle, and they wish to declare him King. Remember, the people who came in search of Jesus were in search of a political and military, and after speaking with Jesus, they discovered this was not to be the case.

They came to Jesus and asked him for another sign, like feeding all of those folks with a few loaves of bread, and a couple of fish was not enough, but they wanted to be entertained, so they asked for a magic show. Rather than entertain them, he told them that He was the bread of life, spiritual life, and all that seek him out would not leave hungry or thirsty. We should seek after Jesus not seek after flashing lights and floor show.

In the end, most of those who came left because they did not get what they wanted, entertainment. The road that Jesus was putting before them required work on their part. Jesus was not going to snap his fingers and save them, he expected them, and us, to put the hard work in. Jesus offers us a way of life but that way of life requires change, and we have to be willing to change.

So, if the church is not offering anything for you, perhaps the problem is not the church but our thinking. The church offers, through Jesus Christ, life but that life requires work, and if we are willing to do the work, we will never be hungry or thirsty.