The Work of God Without Fillers, Hormones, Steroids, or Programs

John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:28 ¬? Then they asked him, ‚ÄúWhat must we do to do the works God requires?‚Äù
John 6:29 ¬? Jesus answered, ‚ÄúThe work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.‚Äù

It’s funny how my distractions play right into my Bible study time. I was reading various blogs this morning and some different church planting movements in America right now and got kind of burnt out on the whole “trying to make our church appealing so people will come” idea. Trendy marketing and catchy 5-week sermon series based on the current trendy TV show or dramatic one word sentences (ie. “with.” or “in”) wore me out as I was distracted before getting to my Bible.

Then I read this passage. Just like today, the masses were looking for the formula or list of what to do to get God’s big red checkmark of acceptance. When they asked “what must we do” they were waiting for a list. John doesn’t have a “sermon on the mount” section in his gospel. Rabbis often had a set of teachings that they could recite, and this might be what the people were expecting from Jesus. They would often ask “what is the most important law” which would sort of tell the listeners what rabbinical denomination a teacher was in.

Jesus completely steps out of what they were expecting for an answer. His list contains one item, and that one item encompasses every aspect of life. It is not easy, it is not even CLEAR, and it requires a lot of time-a long span of life, to draw near to it. It can also be done in an instant, and completed in a momentary act, which would then just be continued on for your life.

The other day I was talking to a guy in my neighborhood about missionaries and he got ‘that look’ on his face. That looks that says “those people destroy culture and brainwash people” and is often hard to really talk about to people that don’t know about missionaries. I think the same thing would happen if you looked at too many websites of contemporary mega-churches. They have all kinds of happy faux-hawk young men and happy mothers of 2 doing numerous demographically strategic activities. Small groups, food shelters, and video of the weekly sermon are all things you would want to know about and participate in.

Long ago, when the Jewish people were cast into exile, the leaders believed it was because they were not following the Torah, or God’s way (law). They developed a commentary on that Law, which detailed even more laws that, if followed, would definitely keep everyone far far away from breaking God’s Law. They came up with 1,500 rules to prevent them from breaking God’s single statement, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” And eventually, all of these rules became laws too, equal in severity and punishment to God’s original law. That commentary turned to law is called the Mishna. The Mishna took on equal standing to the Law, and the Pharisees forgot the point of God’s Torah and began to make the Mishna the point of their lives.

Which takes me back to John 6.29. I think the leaders of our day have written their own Mishna that has taken us away from Jesus, the source of all life. Now you can be in a small group, volunteer in outreaches (that consist of simply inviting someone to come and listen to someone else talk about God) and attend worship every week and think you are doing the “works God requires.” It’s almost like someone said, “Jesus said to believe in the one God sent. What does that look like?” and somebody made a list. After making that list, they forgot what the question was, and tacked those answers onto a different question: “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

I would like to reset and unlearn what I have learned. I would like to trash my whole list, even though for a long time I have been a marketer and promoter of such lists. I want to be connected to the original answer and not the commentary on the questions about the answer. I want to see what happens to a life that doesn’t have any additional baggage, but simply believes in the One God sent.