The day after Jesus performed the larger-than-life miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes, a remnant of that crowd tracked Him down and engaged in a pretty lengthy theological discussion. In John 6:28, the group asks Jesus a profound question, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” They’re clearly asking the wrong question as they inquire about what type of good work would merit salvation. Of course, the New Testament clearly teaches that salvation comes by grace through faith alone. Jesus responds, “this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” In other words Jesus is saying, “since you’re fixated on “works” then the only “work” you need to be concerned about is believing.
As followers of Jesus we know that we can’t work to earn our salvation; but I think so often we obsess over this concept of working for God. As someone who has been preaching the Gospel for the past seventeen years, and having been in vocational ministry for thirteen years, I’ve often thought in terms of how I can work harder for God. The longer I walk with the Lord the more I realize that I have nothing to offer God by working for Him. And I’m also realizing that Jesus didn’t die on the cross and save me to work for Him, but to wait on Him. What He longs for most of all is for me to spend time with Him, and in the process of that, He gives me the privilege to work alongside of Him as He fulfills the ministry of the Kingdom.
When my son Levi was three or four years old, he used to walk beside me with a plastic lawnmower as I cut the grass. He would gleefully exclaim, “I’m helping you cut the grass Daddy!” Of course, he didn’t cut the first blade of grass! Not only did he not help, he actually hindered the process! I’d have to make sure he didn’t get too close to the road. We’d get distracted and pick up sticks and start sword fighting. He’d get in my way over and over and over. He thought he was “working” but he was simply spending time with me. And I loved every second of it!
It’s kind of like that as we fulfil the Great Commission. God could have chosen to redeem the lost and bring salvation to mankind all by Himself. And yet He chooses to use us alongside of Him in the process! We really have nothing to offer Him in terms of ability. What He’s looking for availability.
As we journey on this walk of faith, Jesus’ words to the people in John 6 still ring true, “this is the work of God, that ye believe..” Sometime it is indeed work to believe the promises of God. It’s hard sometimes to stand on His promises. We still battle the flesh that is opposed to everything spiritual. When we find ourselves going through difficult, seemingly impossible situations, whether they be financial struggles, broken relationships, or health challenges, it’s tough sometimes to see God at work. That’s when we need to “stir up the gift of God” within us and work to believe that He is faithful that promised!
By standing on His Word and recounting His faithfulness in the past, we can move into a place of faith that laughs at impossibilities and sees His sovereignty in everything. Let it be, Lord!