Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 6:26-27, where the Bible says,
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Don’t be Fooled by Things that Don’t last!
One of my favorite TV docu-dramas was a series called “Shaka Zulu.” It told the story of an African “general” named Shaka who ascended to the leadership throne of the Zulus in 1816. He then created one of the mightiest empires the African continent has ever known. He was a powerful, ruthless warrior against all enemies of the Zulus, but he was also bloodthirsty among his own people. The series demonstrates our fallen human condition in all of its folly. Even the powerful of the world have “feet of clay.” No one escapes the destructive effects of sin, pride, greed, and other such things by their own efforts. That point is made toward the end of the series in a dialogue between Shaka and Great Britain’s emissary to the Zulus, Lieutenant Francis Farewell. The dialogue of their final meeting before Shaka's return to his capital where he will be assassinated by his own aunt went like this:
Shaka: Tell me, how do you catch a monkey?
Lt. Francis Farewell: Well, a gourd is used...with a narrow neck. Bait is dropped into the gourd, a piece of fruit, or - or something shiny. The monkey puts his hand into the gourd to get the bait, and then he's trapped...because he can't get his fist out.
Shaka: Once he realizes he's trapped, why doesn't the monkey let go of the bait?
Lt. Francis Farewell: Because his greed makes him blind.
Shaka: And what is he greedy for?
Lt. Francis Farewell: What he thinks he cannot have.
Shaka: And now what new bait have you brought for this monkey? Something shiny? Like the freshness of youth? Or lost love? Bait your gourd, Fabana.
No matter how much effort, money, and technology we have at our disposal, we are always prone to seek what we cannot have. That’s why the Bible asks challenging questions like these: What do you seek for your life to have meaning and purpose now and forever? What do you seek for your life so that it might be what God intends it to be, an eternal one, full of love and grace? Do you seek something that’s merely “shiny?” Do you seek things like the “bread and miracles” that even the religious people of Jesus day yearned to see? Or do you seek what God offers, a reconciled relationship with the one who created you and redeemed you in the person and work of Jesus Christ?
What is it that you seek? Although that question is vital, there is an even more important truth in the text. It’s the fact that the enduring solution, the “key to life,” is not to be found in you, the seeker, but in the one who seeks you! Jesus reminds us of that as He clearly tells the people of His day, and us as well, that the answers for our lives are to be found in Him, the one who seeks us all with forgiveness, life, and salvation. Just after our reading, Jesus declares, “This is the work of God that you believe in the one whom He has sent” (John 6:29). In other words, Jesus invites you to trust in Him, the one who seeks you with the “food” of life, joy, and peace that last.
Too many of us continue to seek only what the world can give. We let the powerful, the famous, the rich, and even the persuasive “bait the gourd” of what does not last. In so doing, they may capture our attention, but also drive us further from the God who loves us and the people in our lives that we are called to serve. Today’s the day to trust in Christ, the one who seeks you with His grace. Don’t let others “bait your gourd” with what doesn’t last. Trust in Christ’s Word, which does (see Luke 21:33). Let’s be the people who have received from Him “the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). Then let’s begin to live in that reality each day for those whom He places in our paths. God bless!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, cause our hearts and minds to continue to look to You and to what You say is valuable in our lives, especially the faith relationship that we can have with You. Refresh and empower us by Your grace to let go of that which doesn’t last and to strive to serve others with what does. AMEN.