Monday, May 27, 2013

Where does that bread come from?

This isn't really a post about Christianity or Jesus, but it's got a lot of that religious stuff in it.  Bear with me.

The other day in church,  I got to read the scripture (John 6:60-71).  At this point in the Bible, Jesus has spent two totally kick-butt days with amazingly huge crowds:  he's fed five thousand people, he's walked on water, and he's got that whole Galilean world in his hand.  Then, when everybody's all pepped up and feeling like this dude is totally where it's at, he starts a spiel:  You want bread?  I'm the bread of life.  You want to get to the Father?  You gotta go through me.

Four thousand nine hundred eighty eight people walk away.  Party over.  Twelve guys remain; when Jesus asks them if they want to go, too, Simon Peter says there's nowhere else to go: the True Way is standing there right in front of them.

Our visiting pastor was all pumped up about Simon Peter.  What a smart guy!  The take-away lesson of the sermon was that the final tally for that particular event was 4,988 ignorant losers, 12 righteous and wise men.  (Well, okay, Judas was one of the twelve, but he wasn't part of the sermon).

But me?  I'm new enough to this faith that my head is right there with the ignorant masses.  If I'd been in that crowd, hearing this guy for the first time, what would convince me to change my mind, to make me believe a dude who talks crazy talk?  (This particular section, Jesus wasn't even preaching the feel-good stuff about love-your-neighbor; he was saying, "You need to eat of my flesh".  Creepy.)  Really, a guy selling time shares for a condo would be more appealing, and I've walked away from those guys every time they started in on me.

Leaving the whole Bible thing aside, what makes a person accept a counter-intuitive idea as truth?

I believe, for example, that I'll be happier if I keep my spending to a minimum level.   (I have heard that there are people who find this approach to life distressing, not pleasing.)

Also, that I'll feel more energetic and healthy if I regularly exercise and wear myself out.  (There's plenty of people I hang with who think my whole Iron Man plan is whacked out, although they're too polite to say so to my face).

The most successful people in life take chances at doing something nobody else is willing to chance, to believe in something new or weird or difficult (or all three).  How does a body know if that new, weird, difficult thing happens to be the right thing?

 I don't have a good answer.  My best guess is that it has something to do with time.  It has something to do with a willingness to try an idea on, carry it around, feel its weight.  Simon P. wasn't a new-comer to Jesus's posse; he'd spent some serious time hangin' with the Man.  If there's any real moral I can get from that story John told, it's to be wary of hoping that anything can give us the quick fix.  You can't solve your financial problems overnight by spending zero for just one day.  You can't become buff in a week, even with the most awesome gym membership.  And you can't find the true answers to life, the universe, and everything in just two days, even if you hear it from The Guy who Walks on Water.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure how people manage to be trailblazers. That's another level in conviction. I do think seeing that other people have found fulfilment through those things is a big deal though. Talking with people who've gone the frugal route, who exercise regularly, or who walk a path of faith helps you see that the results can be there in your life, even if they aren't yet. Which is why we're supposed to be examples, and why it can really hurt our cause when we don't show people the great things about our sustainable/faithful/healthy lives that make the trials worth it. If all we do is complain or be hypocritical, we're probably not encouraging someone to follow our path.

    Knowing that, in general, success takes hard work and being able to delay gratification helps a lot (speaking as one who delayed learning those skills...)