The pastor said, “If you’re like me, you . . .” Then he described feelings that closely reflected my own. I was surprised to think my experience might be common.
When I was new at the church my husband and I now attend, Communion was wonder-filled. Not remarkably different in its practice from my previous experience. But profound with awe.
After a brief search for a new church home, we had come to this church–where children and grandchildren also worship. Communion here brought me a sense of Christ’s presence. It gave me unexplainable peace and joy. Good feelings filled me.
Then the church community became familiar. I was still home–even more at home than before because I was getting to know the people around me. But good feelings come and go; the awe wore away.
I wanted that feeling, that awe, back.
Then the pastor drew me to John 6. Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves. The people ate. They were satisfied. Good feelings filled them. They liked that feeling of the miraculous.
They followed so they could keep that feeling.
Then Jesus told them: “I am the bread of life” (John 6: 35 NASB). We follow, not for the physical fish and bread He had multiplied–and not for the feelings that came with them. We follow Jesus, just Jesus.
It was a turning point in His ministry–the call to follow the spirit of God and not the flesh of feelings.
“It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (63).
Christ and His words are miracle enough.
This turning point in His ministry became a turning point for the crowd of followers. Jesus didn’t just keep doing miracles to hang onto the crowd. He knew some in the crowd didn’t believe. They only liked the miracles. The free bread. The good feeling.
So when it looked like the show was over, when Jesus explained that “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father,” (65) many left.
Feelings come and go. People sometimes do too. Jesus retained a smaller crowd of followers–true believers and one betrayer.
The true believers were those who followed Him whether the good times continued or the tough times of persecution came–which they did.
Those who walked away went–to what? The next show? A circus that would end and leave them empty, hungering for the next experience.
And never knowing miracle again.
Those who stayed experienced testing and persecution. But they also experienced miracles again–the miracles of Pentecost, of redemption for themselves and for the Church that would grow from their own ministry.
They got to–and yet today get to–experience Christ and His words.
Following Christ is so much more than a feeling. And it leads us eventually to the ultimate awe.
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