[John 6: 35]
These words were initially addressed to the crowds who had participated in the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. Jesus had fed their physical hunger and they were anxious to see what other signs he would perform. Jesus however wanted to steer them away from signs that miraculously created what was perishable and awaken them to the spiritual reality of “who He was” and how they could experience new life through Him.
If we are cradle Christians we will likely be aware of this scripture passage from John’s gospel. With these words Jesus calls each of us to a radical shift in our spiritual life. Many of us however spend our lives [and I include myself in this category] not really fully digesting the meaning of these words. We may hear them again and again until, hopefully, the penny finally drops. Jesus is calling us to radical transformation. We are called to surrender ourselves to Jesus and to the extent that we do that we notice our real hungers and thirsts are satiated. We begin to mirror Jesus as we surrender to Him and as He fills us with His Spirit others hear the voice of Jesus in us, feel his comforting hands in our hands and experience his heart and compassion in us.
So what is holding us back? In my own experience the world often gets in the way. We live in an environment often hostile to the Christian message and so the influences are frequently negative. We may be reluctant to accept the crosses that come our way. We do know however that God’s grace is available to assist us as we struggle with our own human nature and the attacks of the enemy. We need to be realistic on the issue of timing. Real spiritual growth is a lifetime endeavor and the important things is that we recognize our weakness while at the same time embracing the call of Jesus and leaving it in his hands to provide the help we need to experience transformation.
One thing however is clear to most of us who have faced the inconsistencies of life. Nothing we experience in this world really satisfies us. We continually move from one experience to another in the hope that we will find the panacea that eludes us but in the end we have to confess that it still eludes us. God, of course, designed us not to find complete satisfaction and contentment in this life but only in union with Him in the next. We can however in this life begin to experience the Kingdom in the here and now by accepting the invitation of Jesus to surrender to Him.
This surrender comes with a cost. As Jesus himself said “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” [Luke 9: 23]. The cross that Jesus speaks of is often His call to us to set aside our own agenda and be his voice, his hands, his feet and his heart. We cease to march to our own drum and instead take on the ministry of love that Jesus modelled for us. As our spiritual awakening begins to manifest itself in service to others the joy and peace of our new state in life is a magnet that attracts the lost and disillusioned to the true imperishable Bread of Life.