Human effort accomplishes nothing

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
John 6:35‭, ‬63 NLT

What an interesting and challenging topic Jesus takes us through in John chapter 6! Last night, I went out into the darkness, deep into a place that many religious folks wouldn’t dare be seen because of “the appearance of sin” that it might give others by their simply being in such a place. Yes, I stepped into a part of the world that used to be a normal part of my life. And I found a table near the back, had a soda, and set my pocket Bible out on the table to flip through and read as I passed the time there.

I didn’t stand up on top of a table and push judgement at the “sinners of the world” sitting around me. I didn’t look down my nose in pity or in disgust at the world and it’s influence. I didn’t get offended by the music playing, the alcohol flowing, the influence of lust driving people’s hungry eyes back and forth. I remembered that it was not so long ago that I was “the woman at the well” in need of living water, in need of the bread of life, in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

And my visit was a refreshing break from the busy religious activity, from the hypocrisy of works, from the fruitless and wearisome straining. Because I knew that I was supposed to be there. And I didn’t care what the religious might say about me “sitting with sinners”. And I didn’t care what people might think if they noticed me sitting alone, reading my Bible in quiet peace — “an oddity in this place”. And I didn’t worry last night that temptation might draw me back into my old ways, because it was a necessary appointment, it was a visit with purpose and a calling — it may have looked foolish and careless on the outside to the judging eyes that can’t see the heart, like putting myself “too close to the opportunity to sin” — but for me, it was being obedient to the Lord, trusting Him as my strength to keep me and not lose me.

Practically speaking, I’m not saying that you need to put yourself in harm’s way foolishly. But if the Lord has called us to take the light out into the darkness, why are so many sitting comfortably in weekly social gatherings with the “healed” instead of taking the cure out to the dying? Why are we feasting together with so many that have the bread of life and are unwilling to take it out to the spirituality hungry. Don’t hear me wrong! Im not saying, “Get up and go under your own power!” But I am wondering how many of us have sought God out and asked Him where He would have us go today that is carrying the light into the darkness. How many of us have been still and quiet with Him long enough to hear that uncomfortable and shocking call of where He would have us go? How many of us have shaken off the shock and awe of realizing just where this journey might take us and stepped out of the boat into the waves to draw close to our amazing, powerful, Almighty God and His calling and prose for our lives — not caring that others might see us sink under the waves, not caring that “practically speaking” we might drown, because it is the name of the Lord and the Word of God that we bare, not only on our lips, but written upon our hearts, and ablaze in our bones!

Why do we insist on so much that is “practical” and “wise” — and so little that is “believing” and “obeying” — even when we have seen the miraculous that occurs when we are willing to be fools again in order to see God proven mighty, powerful, and worthy to be praised?

Lord, remind us that it is you alive in us, and that alone that has kingdom impact and influence — not our “reasonable plans”, not our “effective, repeatable, and measurable strategies”, and not our “busy and wearisome activity”. Teach us to listen for your call, to see you in the storm beckoning us out onto the waves, to trust you to walk with us. Amen.

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