After worship a parishioner approached me about my sermon on Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 in John’s gospel. “You made it sound easy.” I wasn’t sure if that was an accusation or an observation. In the sermon shared I Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s story about turing around a chronically under-performing, under-functioning inner city school (www.ted.com).
“You made discipleship sound easy,” the parishioner repeated. I weakly protested. “I didn’t mean to. I never said that Ms Cliatt-Wayman’s task was easy. Discipleship certainly isn’t easy. A guy named Bonhoeffer wrote a book about how hard it is to take Jesus seriously. (The Cost of Discipleship) It’s the hardest work we’ll ever do.”
Walking to my car I reflected upon the short conversation. I thought about the disciples asking Jesus to send the crowd away. Instead Jesus asked them what they had to eat. One of the disciples replied that there was a child in the crowd who had a couple of small fish and some cheap bread. Jesus told them to bring him the fish and bread. He blessed the simple elements and instructed the disciples to distribute them among the crowd. Guess what? There was enough. There was more than enough!
“You made it sound easy.” The words ricocheted in my mind until they settled upon a glimpse of grace. The disciples gave Jesus ALL their resources to Jesus. Not a portion or a proportion but all. When we give all that we have and all that we are to Jesus, He takes it, blesses it and gives it back to us to use in doing the work of the Kingdom.
The hardest thing for we “Westerners” to do, I believe, is to give Jesus our “fish and loaves”…our financial wealth. Like the rich young ruler, we’d rather walk away than follow. Trusting Jesus isn’t easy. Following Him is even harder.