Musing on John 6, 51 to 58
Off at a tangent….?
So this is the third week focusing on Jesus ‘I am the Living Bread’ discourse, and I find I have little more to say about it except to note the repetition means that it’s all mega important, and also to note that he spoke it all in the Capernaum synagogue, which must have caused a few heart attacks amongst the traditional Jews there! In our passage today he reiterates that –
He lives by the power of the Living Father and that ‘partakers’ in him live by his power, therefor they will live by Gods power.
Eat me and you’ll live. Eat and drink and you’ll remain in me and I’ll remain in you. Again reminding us that receiving the bread and wine is a public declaration of our acceptance of him and accepting the Holy Spirit to work within us.
I find the simple instructions of Jesus, here and elsewhere, to those who wish to follow him and receive forgiveness, healing and eternal life to be just a bit at odds with the teachings we often get from preachers, the church (various one size fits all programmes handed down from on high which have to be constantly revamped as they never succeed), or popular Christian books about how to be a good Christian, how to be ‘church’ (eg the Purpose Driven Church), how to pray etc. Do you?
Take the focus that + Stephen calls us to on the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes. These are called the 4 foundational teachings of our faith but if we’re not careful they can become a formula for how we are to live and believe. And yet when I look at what is behind them all I see simply Jesus-
The Ten Commandments – Jesus said he fulfilled the law and summed them up in the simple formula of Love God (the first 4) and Love Neighbour (the last 6) i.e. Do as I do (eat me).
The Creed – a human formula after a lot of disputes, wars etc. to try and define who Jesus is and his relationship with the church. Jesus says just eat me (eg don’t worry about the Trinity or which Church is right).
The Lords Prayer – a gift from Jesus, essential, to be prayed at all times and in all places. No other instruction books required, no other words needed.
The Beatitudes – to me not in any way to be discerned as instructions but a declaration of the inclusiveness of God – all these people mentioned had been excluded from ‘religion’ but were included by Jesus. Eat me, says Jesus, and thus be as inclusive as me.
In my personal road of discipleship I’ve arrived at a place where I find I’m rebelling against a ‘this is how our faith/ belief/ church’ should be’ approach. You can’t make all the church congregations the same. We should rather celebrate their differences. We can’t make everyone believe in the same way. God made each one of us unique and we therefor each have a unique understanding and way of expressing our faith and we each have unique insights into the character of God which we should share and debate, sometimes (often?) having to hold contradictory views together until we come to a deeper understanding. We should celebrate our different insights and make an effort to understand different viewpoints, even if we disagree. God is so beyond our understanding that it takes all of us sharing to get anywhere close to understanding him.
I think that is why Jesus says to his disciples ‘ Look, don’t worry about trying to understand logically, you’ll only get frustrated. Just eat me, focus simple on me, on what is revealed about me in the Gospels, on my simple instructions in those writings; just believe and trust in me and accept and learn to enjoy the mystery and the ride. Eat me.’
Derek (who sometimes wonders about the mystery of why God called me to be a specifically Anglican priest, and who apologises if this seems more a rant than a muse)