Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not by Bread Alone--by Linden Malki

This universe was created with what physicists call the "Law of Conservation of Energy." (Actually, what we call "physical laws" are descriptions of the way the universe works, not something that could be broken by man.) We know this principle well; we expend energy simply to survive moment by moment; if we want to expend more energy, we need to increase the "fuel" that we take in. If we don't take in the minimum to sustain life, our physical life stops.

Our world was also created with the means for us to supply our physical energy needs. The sun shines, plants grow and set off a chain of events that result in our having something to eat. Some foods require more effort than others, even the most obviously provided food--manna in the the wilderness--required gathering by the day. God knows that we need food--He created the whole cycle. We spend a good deal of our time dealing with the need for food--sometimes directly searching and gathering it; sometimes doing something for which we will be paid enough to buy food that someone else has prepared.

The first thing Jesus did before He went out to preach and teach was to experience the common issues that we as people face. When He spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, he dealt with hunger, just as we do. And this was an opening for a temptation--the tempter knew that Jesus had the power to short-circuit the whole thing and provide bread for Himself. And the temptation didn't even need the presence of the tempter--we all know the power of hunger. But Jesus answered with the words of Moses in the wilderness. Moses wanted to make it clear that as important as the manna was to sustain the lives of the people, they needed to recognize that even something as important as food was not the most important thing in life. The manna was provided by God, as a lesson about the power of God and their need for Him. What Moses--and Jesus-said that as important food is, it is not the most important consideration in life: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." This can be taken too far: James points out the uselessness of words in the face of real need; but also the downside. Jesus Himself did provide food for several thousand people on at least two occasions; and the reaction of most of the crowds was to come back the next day, hoping for another free lunch.

We also need to find the right balance between taking appropriate care of ourselves, and having our priorities straight with God. Our own physical needs--and wants--can take over our minds and become an obsession that locks out the true Bread. What we need to learn is that we are taken care of; and we are responsible to each other. Not to use the needs of others to manipulate them, or draw attention to ourselves. He told us to not look for credit on this earth; we may get it but it is all we get.

Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life; that we tap His energy by following Him..

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