Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IN DEFENSE OF A “PIE IN THE SKY” FAITH (2)


(Continued from previous post)
OVERCOMING THE WORLD

What exactly did Jesus mean when He told us that He has overcome the world?  Did He mean that through Him we can, in this present life, arrive at a point that we will not be bothered with the “tribulations” of this world?  We must be careful how we answer this question, because the manner in which we answer it will, in large part, determine our goals and priorities.
          As we read through the ministry of Jesus and that of the early church, it becomes very evident that the inordinate quest of temporal answers to present day difficulties actually conflicts with the teaching of Jesus.  It prevents us from seeing that the true promises can be and only will be fulfilled in eternity.  This is among the very first things that Jesus tells his disciples:


“No one can serve two masters,” Jesus told them.  “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  (Matthew 6:24-25 NIV).


After giving His disciples the examples of how God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and telling them that by seeking only these things they are no different than pagans, Jesus tells them this:


“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 24-33 NIV).


It sounds a little like “pie in the sky” teaching.


DETERMINING OUR PRIORITIES

The only miracle of Jesus that is recorded by all four Gospel writers is that of the feeding of the five thousand.  As Jesus went around Galilee healing the sick, He attracted a very large following.  As He was sitting on a mountainside near the Sea of Galilee speaking with his disciples one day, Jesus lifted His eyes to see a large crowd coming to Him.
          In the well known story that follows, Jesus uses the occasion to teach His disciples about the provision of God. Jesus takes the only food available, a lad’s lunch of five barley loaves and two fish, and uses those scant supplies to provide enough food so that the people ate until all were satisfied.
          When the people saw what Jesus had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14).
          Jesus, seeing that the people intended to come and to take Him by force to make Him their king, retreated to a place where He could be alone.  That night, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (it was like a large lake) to Capernaum, a town on the other shore.
          The next day (perhaps it was about breakfast time) the crowd who had been fed on the mountainside, began looking for him.  They conclude that Jesus must have crossed the sea and had perhaps gone to Capernaum, so they themselves got into small boats to go and look for Him.  Amazingly enough, they found Him.  “Rabbi,” they said, “when did you get here?”
          Jesus understood their motivation in seeking and following Him and told them this: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:26-27 NIV).
          The real issue and the heart of the teaching of Jesus was not that He would supply our needs for this life – that is a secondary matter and one that He demonstrated to the people on the mountainside.  The priority that Jesus was trying to teach them is that they should instead search for “food that endures to eternal life.”
          By spending all of our time and effort in getting into boats to go and search for breakfast, we miss what is truly important.  This will only serve to try to have our daily needs fulfilled.
(I will conclude this in the next post)

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