Summary: Will we take the easy way or the hard way?
John 6:35-37, 53-71
“Is Christianity Hard to Swallow?”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor East Ridge UMC, Chattanooga, TN
In our Scripture lesson for this morning we see the first instance—as it pertains to Jesus Christ and the Christian faith—of the revolving door!!!
By this time lots of people were following Jesus.
Many of them had been a part of the feeding of the 5,000.
They had been hungry…
…they had been given a great sermon…
…and they had been well-fed to boot!
So they decided they wanted more.
So they started to follow Jesus.
They had come to consider themselves disciples of Christ.
And for a while everything seemed to be ‘peachy keen’!
What a cool way to spend one’s life.
Listen to a good sermon, have some fun fellowship and get fed!
“This discipleship stuff is easy,” they may have thought.
“We have come upon a gold mine! We’ve won the lottery. We’ve joined an awesome new club!”
“Feed us again Jesus. Tell us some more neat stories. And feed us again.”
Jesus, earlier on in Chapter 6 says, in essence, to these new converts, “I tell you the truth, you are following me because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
Kind of sounds like what my dog Wesley does.
She follows me wherever I go in the house.
Especially if she has not yet been fed!
But she also just plain follows me.
She doesn’t follow everyone.
Mary Ellen, for instance, would just love—more than anything-- for Wesley to follow her—but Wesley won’t even come when Mary Ellen calls her.
I’m the one who feeds the dog.
The dog knows this.
It’s that simple.
So Jesus tells these fair-weathered disciples: “Do not work for bread that spoils, but for food that endures for eternal life.”
They must have been blown away!
They had really hit the lottery!
So they replied, “Sir, from now on give us this bread.”
They had no clue as to what Jesus was talking about, and then He comes up with this: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Things are getting better for these folks all the time!
They can all retire!
“Just follow Jesus and we will never be hungry or thirsty again!!!”
“How cool is this? Jesus is a traveling vending machine!”
And this is often how persons view the Christian faith.
Many of us come into this discipleship thing thinking, “All I gotta do is follow Jesus and all my problems will magically disappear! I will have no more financial worries. I will never again be sick. Jesus will provide for my every whim!”
And thus begins the revolving door…
Does life become real and alive if and when we follow Christ?
Is following Christ the only answer to this life’s pain and misery?
You better believe it!
Is it a way to escape the troubles of this world?
Not a chance!!!
As a matter of fact…
…when we follow Jesus, we take on—not only our problems—we take on the problems of the entire world!
I love the way J.B. Phillips translates one of the Beatitudes, “Happy,” he writes, “are those who take on their share of the world’s pain for they will get much more out of life than those who avoid it.”
So Jesus is not an itinerant vending machine.
Neither is He a magic slot machine that keeps spitting out quarters.
Jesus is the Savior of the world Who paid the Ultimate price—His very Life—so that we may live!
And Jesus calls us into the struggle with Him.
Jesus calls us to leave the material aspects of this world behind for the spiritual.
Jesus calls us to get down in the trenches, in the fox holes and fight alongside Him for the salvation of the world!
Not so glamorous after-all is it?
Unless you want to be a hero.
Unless you want your life to make a positive difference.
Unless you are willing to lose yourself—your selfishness—for the sake of others—and get more out of this life than those who are only interested in bread that spoils!!!
Jesus says, “whoever comes to me, I will never turn away.”
How awesome is that?
“Come to me! I will give you eternal life! I will make you whole! I will make your life meaningful. I will never turn you away!”
But we turn away from Him, do we not, and find ourselves back in the same mess we were in before!
To so many of us, Christianity is just too hard to swallow!
So we leave through the revolving door.
We turn away.
We run from the only One Who can give us LIFE!