Summary: Faith sees Jesus and all that Jesus is. Religion sees what is comfortable and common

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In Wyoming’s Fitzpatrick Wilderness at 11400 feet above sea level is the pristine shore of a nameless lake. This is where we join Mike Turner, a Presbyterian minister completing his sabbatical leave with a solo adventure with God. This adventure Mike called a “Wander in Wonder” was a 60 mile hike through the Wind Rivers in Wyoming. Four days earlier he had left his wife of 20 years with a bouquet of flowers and a note thanking her for this time she was giving him to do this solo hike and retreat with God. As he and his dog Andy slowly and cautiously picked their way through a sea of boulders Mike’s feet slipped on an unsteady boulder. He leaped to another hoping for balance. Mike had set a rock slide in motion and when the dust cleared and the noise subsided, Mike found himself pinned between two boulders right above his knees. He writes in his journal, “About 2 hours ago a large rock rolled upon me and trapped my legs, I was very careful be sure of that, but I hurt. . . I am in your hands Lord. . . I don’t know what I face.”

The sixth chapter of John begins with the familiar story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. John is sure to tell us that the crowd recognized their dinner as a miracle and they are ready to make Jesus their king based upon their full tummies. As evening approached the 12 disciples left in a boat to cross over the lake to Capernaum. Jesus stays behind for some quiet time and joins the disciples later in the night as he walked out to them on the water. While the other Gospels focus on the miracle of walking on water John is more interested in the reaction of the crowd when they discover Jesus is not among them in the morning and all the boats are still there. They begin to search for him and catch up to him in Capernaum. When the crowd catches up to him they are foremost concerned about how he got there, but Jesus does not answer this concern. Jesus addresses their reasons for searching for him, which was related to the stomachs and not their hearts. The crowd who filled their stomachs on the bread and fish cannot see beyond the miracle to the Miracle Maker. Their desire to have their bellies filled again and again blinds from seeing Jesus as Lord of all. Jesus pushes them to see the spiritual “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

The crowd again is more interested in their physical hunger condition rather than their spiritual condition. “What sign will you give us? Will you provide food for us like Moses did for the Israelites in the wilderness?” Jesus responds, don’t you see, don’t you get it, “I am the bread of life!” This is a picture of religion verses faith.

Religion is humanity’s creation, faith is God’s gift.

Religion comes to church to receive satisfaction and to check off on a Sunday.

Faith comes to church to see Jesus.

Religion sees Jesus as a meal ticket. Faith sees Jesus as God.

Religion searches for physical needs to be met by performing rituals.

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Elizabeth Stutler

commented on Sep 17, 2006

How touching. With permission I am going to touch on the story of Mike and the difference in faith and religion at my discussion service tonight. Thank you. Keep Giving God the glory!

Leslie Kerr

commented on Sep 17, 2015

I attended Mike's Funeral. It was a real celebration of his life and his faith. His witness still lives on. Thank you for reminding me of this.

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