Today’s readings: Psalms 46 or 97; 147:12-20, Deuteronomy 8:1-3, Colossians 1:1-14, John 6:30-33, 48-51
Bread gets a bad rap. The carbs, preservatives, bleached flours, and chemicals it contains fill our media and magazines with articles about how they are slowly killing us. We see it on a restaurant table and know it’s there to fill us up before the real food arrives. Baking it ourselves is better, but in most homes that is a rare and indulgent occasion. If Jesus called himself the “bread of life” in the United States today, some disciple would try to substitute a lettuce wrap
The spongey, pale loaves available on most grocery store shelves barely resemble the bread of Jesus’s time. We wouldn’t recognize the wheat that was ground for flour then – if wheat was even the grain used. The bread was more dense, more nutritious … and a whole lot more work. Baking and consuming it were ongoing daily activities. Bread was indeed life.
Over the centuries has Christianity itself suffered a similar fate? Has the mass marketing of faith resulted in an inferior product? How many of us are in the daily business of creating church and how many of us grab what’s easily available without concern for the ingredients? It is too easy to develop a taste for a Wonder Bread faith: a cheap, convenient product which temporarily makes us feel like we’ve been fed but ultimately fails to nourish us.
The Bread of Life is not an appetizer we wolf down on Sundays before beginning the real meal that is the rest of the week. It’s not a dessert to make us feel special for the few minutes it’s on the tongue. It’s not just quick morning and evening prayer like sandwich bread we can choose to discard when we’d rather fill up on the rest of the day. The fast food of Jesus fish bumper magnets and WWJD bracelets is fine in moderation, but it is not the true bread.
The Bread of Life is given freely, but it is not cheap and there are plenty of knock-offs. We know we’ve tasted the true bread when it gives us something to really chew on.
Comfort: The Bread of Life will sustain you through all your needs.
Challenge: What areas of your faith life consist of going through the motions, or parroting unexamined beliefs? Improve these areas by cultivating a more authentic experience.