Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat the loaves and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26-27)
A large group of people, hungry on a hillside, experienced a tangible manifestation of God’s grace. They were at a great gathering to hear a word from Jesus the Christ. Listening to Jesus, time slipped away and there was no place for the multitude to go or gather and find food. So Jesus fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. It was an amazing feat. The people were very impressed. Jesus fed them because they appeared so hungry for the Word that they forwent their daily meal. He wanted to help them. He wanted to respond to them in a way that affirmed the choice they seemed to have made; that of the bread of life over the bread of the body; the choice of spirit over flesh; of mind over matter. The next day, they returned to the same place looking to find Jesus but he was gone. So they got into boats and rushed to the other side of the sea feigning amazement at how Jesus had crossed the waters and performed the miracle they had witnessed. But Jesus was on to them by now. They were much less impressed with what Jesus had to offer in terms of the word of God, than they were with the free meal they had gotten the day before. Jesus said, “verily, verily I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat the loaves and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26-27) In other words, you are not after the “Bread of Life,” you are merely looking for another “free lunch.”
The Church is in the position of Christ as his living body on earth. So many people come to Christ and hence his church, not looking for the Word of God, but rather a free lunch of some kind. They are looking for a silver bullet to cure all the ills in their lives. They are looking to get a free lunch. They go to churches where they hear of people “getting things” looking for things for themselves. They toss aside the purpose of God’s manifestations of miracle and power and seek miracles, matter, and material as ends in themselves-not the mere signs God intended them to be. They have “A free lunch,” mentality and you can bet your bottom dollar it manifests itself in every other aspect of their lives. When the church indulges this foolishness, we send people down the primrose path. Sure it’s easier to build a congregation but you don’t build the lives or families of the people you attract. How can you? The relationship is built on a subversion of the truth.
The Church provides a healing environment, or in psychological terms, a “holding environment,” that fosters the pursuit and achievement of spiritual health; healing for the whole person. The health and healing of people is a process that takes place in a total context of community, worship, spiritual nourishment and direction, all of which is a part of a truly healthy faith community. The purpose of the church is not to provide a silver bullet that magically makes every problem and crisis disappear on contact. Yet it does bring true and in-depth transformation and healing that runs like an anointing from the crown of your head to the sole of your feet. Church is not some occasional pit stop that we simply run into when we have a flat, a wreck, or run out of gas. It is a total maintenance plan for your life and family so that the crises are few and marginal; and health and happiness is the hallmark of your life.
A Friend of the Crucified,