Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 43; 149, Jeremiah 23:9-15, Romans 9:1-18, John 6:60-71
After Jesus declared that those who ate his flesh and drank his blood would have eternal life, murmuring broke about among the Jews. Many struggled to understand his meaning. Others said more directly: “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” Jesus replied: “Does this offend you? […] The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” As a result, many disciples turned away from him. There are a couple lessons we can draw from this.
First, be careful about pledging yourself to a person or cause. Once you’ve jumped on a rolling bandwagon, it will be difficult to jump off with dignity while it’s still moving. Eventually preachers, politicians, denominations, parties, etc. will take a stand you can’t agree with. Pragmatism, pressure, and pride regrettably sway people who want to retain influence. If you followed them out of a sense of tribal loyalty, you may feel betrayed by that difference in opinion, possibly needing to turn away from them entirely. It’s wiser to attach ourselves to issues and principles rather than affiliations so we feel free to agree or disagree with a person or group without feeling conflicted.
Second, God is going to make demands of us we won’t like. In such cases, our own opinions and preferences matter little. As God said to Moses, and Paul recalled in his letter to the Romans: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” In other words, it’s God’s show to run, not ours. The consequences of doing the right thing may seem mysterious or unfair, but since our one true loyalty lies with God, we still need to do it.
We don’t know something is right and true because our favorite preacher or candidate said it; hopefully we select our favorite preachers and candidates because they try to speak what is right and true. Whether we hear something we like or something we don’t, these words of the Twelve remain our clear standard: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Comfort: Jesus offers the words of eternal life.
Challenge: We must accept them even when they seem hard.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to lean not on my own understanding, but to trust you with all my heart. Amen.
Discussion: Does your faith ask anything of you that you don’t particularly enjoy?
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