Summary: People fill up on friendships that give them what they want; they fill up on entertain; they fill up by taking all they can get without ever realizing that they will be more satisfied if they give.
THANKSGIVING DINNERS are awesome! Driveways are over-packed with cars. I have a meal before the meal picking the turkey while I’m carving it! Then, just to make sure there’s not an empty spot down there, we stuff in some pumpkin pie! A few hours later most of us need another meal.
* A picture of a deeper longing – belonging, happiness, fulfillment (etc). Often search for it in all the wrong places.
Whatever we run after to be happy, there’s never enough of it. We’re buying birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Easter gifts, graduation gifts, milestone gifts, Thanksgiving gifts and just-because gifts – just because I can’t take the nagging anymore or just because they want it or just because…
It is hard to be thankful most days. It is hard to be thankful because we’re too busy chasing what we think we need instead of realizing that what we need is right in front of us and has been there all along.
We are hungry. After stuffing ourselves with pleasures, things and pursuits we still long to be filled but we’re always hungry.
This is that story just read in John 6 – people hungry but didn’t know how to satisfy it. Let’s look for answers to help us in our hunger and thirst.
1. SELF GRATIFICATION
Fascinating series of events in John 6:
*6:2, a great crowd followed him because they saw his miracle of healing the sick
*6:5-14, Jesus feed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two small fish. Evening came, disciples cross the lake by boat and Jesus later came to them walking on the water.
*Next day the crowds had gone to the place where Jesus was last seen feeding five thousand people. When they realised he wasn’t there they went to Capernaum “in search of Jesus” (6:24, NIV).
They questioned him how he got there since the boat had left without him the evening before. Ignoring the question, Jesus got to the point of their being there and shot straight to the point and said, “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (V 26)
Their interest in Jesus was not his message. It was the satisfaction they got for themselves mainly that their stomachs where filled.
Anybody offered a free meal at a restaurant is going to rush to the lineup. When there’s a free perk we’ll grab it! It’s because we’re never satisfied and we want more.
Hunger for anything pushes us to look for gratification.
*Going to church can become a consumer benefit. Commitment and interest in Sunday worship for lot a people is often marked by whether or not they like the songs, the style of music or the length of the service. If any of those variables don’t fit what they want, their coming is occasional and their giving is even less frequent. Participation and leadership for many is rooted in the personal benefits attached. These desires wear off and leave people hungry so they try the next church or the new food options (i.e. hungry people are always dissatisfied with the way things are). They cannot fill the hunger because they are chasing the wrong source – THEY NEED SOUL FOOD!
Elections are fascinating, funny and frustrating all at the same time! Politicians make a ton of promises. The road to positive self-image is to discredit the opposition. They make commitments for the environment, education support for students, better child-care or promise health care reforms and then they make an offer that stands out more than any other promise – tax cuts! Too many votes go to the politician who offers the most perks rather than addressing concerns of morality or showing conviction about the real issues of life.
It’s been offered that Jesus’ act of distributing bread was seen as a political statement in opposition to Caesar. Now everyone was interested to see if Jesus would throw in a “tax cut” and do it again to get the votes. SELF GRATIFICATION…
If we pursue Jesus for what we can get out of it, we will not get much out of it! The end result will be emptiness instead of gratification. We may have moments of being “stuffed” but it will pass too quickly. We cannot run after God like buying a new product.
Colonel Henry Gariepy, retired Salvation Army officer and author in the United States offered an awakening word. “Even in what sometimes appears to be our religious duties to Christ we find ulterior motives. Have we not too often observed those who come to church for the bread that perishes? In their coming they are seeking respectability, in their service they are seeking an image of devoutness, in their giving they are seeking personal prestige or trying to compensate for a higher gift required by God. Selfishness can govern even our religious pursuits.