Bread – Sources

March 13, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, March 13, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 18:1-11; Rom. 8:1-11; John 6:27-40; Psalms 101, 109, 119:121-144

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Sources. Where do things come from? Where do we get our stuff from?

There are three choices for answers to these questions. The first answer is “man.” We get our stuff from my work and your work. I can go buy food at the grocery store because I earned the money, the grocer erected the store, the trucker brought the food, and the farmer raised the food. So all of our stuff comes from man as the source. If man is the source of stuff, then he is the source of language, of literature, of reason, of good health, of strength, etc. If man is the source of stuff, then man is the source of life itself.

The second answer to this question is “nature.” The immutable course of history, beginning with the first atom which evolves itself into a protozoa which then evolves itself into a bacteria which then evolves itself into a fish which then evolves itself into a monkey which then evolves itself into man which then evolves itself into something else. The natural progression of life from simple to complex, from time immemorial in the past to the present and beyond, all in a careful balance. Stuff comes from nature, and therefore the study of nature can reveal to us the source of life itself.

The third answer to this question is “God.” God is someone outside of nature and man, who creates, empowers, frees, and punishes. God is the source of our stuff, our reason, our everything, our life.

So, where do you get your stuff from? Is the result of your effort? Is it from the quirky, random forces of nature? Is it a gift from God?

If you are honest, if I hadn’t thrown God into the equation, most people would have picked “man.” And why not? We are born, we are who we know, we hurt, we feel, we try and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail, we build, we make money, we make stuff from other stuff, we think, we wield the sword and can kill. What we observe rationally is “we.”

It should not therefore surprise us that the disciples thought of themselves first as the source for eternal life – from our reading today in John: “Then they said to Him [Christ], ‘What must we do to be doing the works of God?’” John 6:28

This question is our question and it is a profound question. Great works are founded upon this question. Great religions such as Islam are organized around answers to this question. What must we do to please God? If we are the source of stuff, then it is a natural question to ask what must “we do.” After all, we are responsible for earning our daily bread, right? We are responsible for building our businesses, right? Therefore, why wouldn’t we be responsible for what we have to do to have eternal life?

But it is the wrong question. Jesus does not ask the right question, but He answers the right question, thereby implying what the right question is. What Jesus says in response to the disciples’ question “What must we do,” that “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:28. From this answer we deduce the right question. The question is not “What must I do,” but “What must God do.”

See, the questions we ask reveal where we think our stuff comes from; it reveals who we really think is the source. If we are asking “What must we do,” then we ask that from a position of belief that man is the source. If we ask “What must God do” we ask from a position of belief that God is the source.

Think about how that changes what we do and what we say. The businessman, instead of asking “What must I do to fix this problem,” he or she would ask “What must God do through me and others to fix this problem.” If we think man is the source, we look to man for answers. If we think God is the source, we look to God for answers.

Ever wonder why we are such weak Christians? I do. I think one of the reasons may be here – in the questions we ask. Our weakness is due to confusion, is it man’s doing or is it God’s? We are not sure so we are double-minded and how we reflect Christ in the world is thereby seriously and negatively affected.

What is man doing so that I can lead the team or get out of the way? What is God doing so that I can jump on board?

Which question will you ask today? Who do you really believe is the source?

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© 2013 GBF

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