The pastor said, “If you’re like me, you …” Then he described his 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 special 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 Christ’s 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.
He Sees Us
From: Our Daily Journey
Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!
The disciples’ heads must have been spinning. We’re winning! All is lost! No, all is won!
They might have expected their risen Lord would have another surprise in store. When the disciples asked whether He was about “to free Israel and restore our kingdom,” Jesus said the Spirit would empower them to witness about Him around the world (Acts 1:6-8). Then He “was taken up into a cloud” into heaven (Acts 1:9).
Although we can’t see Him, He sees us. Jesus returned to His Father, not to leave us, but so He could better serve us. Now enthroned in heaven, He is “the ruler of all the kings of the world” (Revelation 1:5), working in all things to restore His creation—and us (Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 2:8-10).
And our highly exalted King is also our High Priest. Having “entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf,” “He lives forever to intercede” (Hebrews 9:24, 7:25). Having brought humanity from death into life on the cross, He now transforms us by God’s power (Romans 6:5-11). We can confidently “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him” (Hebrews 10:21-22).
You’ve got a Friend in high places, seated “in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1). May Jesus’ ascension into heaven assure you that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:34,39). Our future is secure in His nail-scarred hands.
When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!
There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.