MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, October 1, 2017, Monday Morning Prayers – thoughts from the sermon The King of Bread (Not).
The young preacher gave a powerful and stirring message. He was only 33 years old. Thousands of people came to hear what he had to say.
At the close of the message, when he invited people to pray, they came forward in large numbers to kneel at the altar. As the young preacher stood there and watched them, they prayed fervently. He took a moment to come closer and walk beside each one and was a little shocked at what they were praying.
He stood next to a businessman: “I want my money,” was his prayer. He stood next to someone who was obviously poor. “I want my food,” that person said. He walked down further to someone who was obviously ill: “I want my healing.”
And the young preacher despaired. “Isn’t there anyone here who wants Jesus Christ?”
Who was the young preacher? Well, I’ve updated a little bit to the customs of today, but I want to suggest today that the young preacher was Jesus Christ. Jesus had wanted to step aside from a busy ministry to spend time in prayer and with the twelve disciples, so he took a boat across the Sea of Galilee to find a private place to pray. But as the boat came closer to shore, a crowd of people was already waiting for him.
He had compassion on them because he could see their needs. The crowd grew through the day. And at the end of the day, they were hungry, and Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and miraculously fed 5,000 people.
Last week, we talked about Peter walking on the water. The week before, we talked about the disciples in the storm and Jesus walking on the water. Today, we’re going to talk about the crowd they left behind. Or tried to leave behind, because the crowd kept following after Jesus. Why were they so committed and driven to follow him?
Consider one possibility: what kind of followers were these? They had discovered that Jesus delivered. Jesus provided what they wanted and needed, and so they came in thousands. The problem, however, is that the purpose of the signs and wonders was so that the people would believe in God and believe in Jesus. The purpose of miracles is to increase faith; today, we would say that the purpose of miracles was to strengthen the ongoing relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ.
But these people aren’t really believers – they are receivers. They are not here to learn and grow in their faith in Jesus Christ – they are here to get their needs met. Jesus is not a person to them but a tool to get what they need and want. Jesus is a means to their ends. Jesus is like a store where everything is free because they need it, and they don’t mind using him to get what they need. They are like people lined up all night on Black Friday, to get something cheaper by being in the front of the line. You’ll find a crowd wherever they find a bargain. They are not believers as much as they are receivers.
When you pray, what percentage of the focus of your prayer on what you want and need? When you pray, what percentage of the focus of your prayer on what others want and need? Do your prayers show that you are at heart a receiver?
When you pray, what percentage of the focus of your prayer is a conversation with Jesus Christ about your relationship, on growing and understanding your faith? Do your prayers show that you are a believer?
If we find ourselves caught up in a receiving mindset, or perhaps even an addiction to that mindset, how do we move toward a believing mindset? How do we shift our focus away from our own needs and problems when those needs and problems seem so overwhelming to us?
The photo is from Why We Don’t Have Altar Calls in Our Church
JUNE 22, 2012 BY NOLLIE from http://www.twoagespilgrims.com/pasigucrc/2012/06/22/why-we-dont-have-altar-calls-in-our-church/
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church. Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.