February 20, 2005

A different lens on John 6:22-59

(26) “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

In American culture, there is some pressure to follow the Christian path, to say one is a Christian because of mainstream social acceptability. However, this is a temporal benefit, and in a manner akin to spoiling, does not in itself satisfy and may actually interfere with a sense spiritual closeness to God. Spiritual closeness to God really requires a partaking of a different kind of food – one that is right in front of us if we open ourselves to it. It is in deep listening, in clear seeing, and in opening of the heart to the eternal love Jesus knew so well.

(35) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

I enjoy looking at these statements by Jesus with a wide lens. I ask myself, who is speaking through Jesus? The answer I continually come round to is God. So, it seems to me, it is God saying, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never thirst.” It is the universal God, within the core of all spiritual traditions, that we hunger for, and that nourishes us. Therefore, it could be and was Krishna or the Buddha or other enlightened Ones saying exactly what Jesus said.


At 2:50 p.m., Blogger david said...

In American culture, there is some pressure to follow the Christian path, to say one is a Christian because of mainstream social acceptability.Do you feel this is still the case? The pastor at our local church in a sermon mentioned that the largest religious group in a local survey was Catholic, followed by Protestant, but third on the list was "none".

At 4:16 p.m., Blogger Meredith said...

I live in a small town in the western states, and here, stating that you are a Christian or Catholic seem to be the norm - either because this feels the most acceptable, or because that is how they identify themselves culturally. My sister-in-law once said "I'm Lutheran" but saw this as having nothing to do with any experiential spiritual experience. It seems to me this this is an example of people identifying with a group and going through some motions with the group, like sitting at the pot-luck table - but missing the most profound nourishment.

At 4:41 p.m., Blogger david said...

For good and bad this is what religion is about -- it takes teh spiritual experiences and builds a culture around them.

This can be bad -- like attending a potluck and missing the deep nourishment of truly sharing in the meal.

But then again -- our lives are not shallow just because we aren't in deep mystical communion 24-7. Sometimes its okay to attend a potluck to check out how people feel about a piece of business on the agenda or just to say hi to somebody you haven't seen in a while.

It is said, God told Mohammad that he wanted his followers to pray 1000 times a day and Mohammad bartered God down to 5. I think it is thru the temporal we encounter the eternal. A laugh or smile. The crinkle of an eye or turn of hand.

At 4:42 p.m., Blogger david said...

Having said that. There is also the danger -- as you point out -- of an eternal diet of spiritual junk food.

At 8:59 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Here in California, Catholics are not the majority ...

The religious affiliations of the people of California are:

* Protestant – 44%
* Roman Catholic – 32%
* Other Christian – 4%
* Other Religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Islam)– 4%
* Non-Religious – 14%

The three largest Protestant denominations in California are: Baptist (10% of total state population), Methodist (4%), Lutheran (4%).

At 7:17 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

"Pressure to follow the Christian path" does exist, a friend of mine has experienced this as she explores Buddhism. She has experienced overt pressure, but I think there is a good deal of covert pressure just in the fact that the majority is Christian.

Without judging, there are also a lot of social Christians, for want of a better word; those folks who go to church because thats what you do. I feel sorry for those who think that is all Christianity has to offer, the church experience. However, I imagine that those who want more can find it.

The potluck comment resonates as I have direct and frequent experience with the church potluck that seems to have nearly nothing to do with the spiritual or even the religious -- lots of material discussion and even church matters, but nothing beyond that. While fellowship is important, it feels to me like that is all that is going on, but maybe thats just the effect it has on me, maybe others are getting spiritual nourishment from this and I'm simply in a different place. I think I literally need to be in a different place; but its hard to leave what you know -- which loops me back around to the brothers' comment.

At 7:24 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Meredith said: "In American culture, there is some pressure to follow the Christian path, to say one is a Christian because of mainstream social acceptability."

This can only be an indictment of the shallowness and even peurility of American religion. My first sermon 50 years ago, when I was pretty shallow and socially inept although deeply sincere was something like: "You people think you're Christians."

I'm sorry to say after all these years that still represents pretty well what I think of American religion.

A true commitment to God is comething entirely different. The last thing it is about is being socially acceptable.

It's about being socially acceptable the same way Christ was. We don't dare that of course, but we might make a feeble effort in that direction.


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