“Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.”
(The Passion Translation) “… he said this to stretch Philip’s faith.” -John 6:5-6
In January I fasted and prayed for God to show us His glory this year for revival in the Church. I felt a strong sense that God was going to do something big; a sense that “Aslan was on the move.” I had no particular notion of what it would look like but thought at least that it would be a demonstration of His power and sovereignty.
This story reminds me of that time. I am Philip in the scene and Jesus is asking me something like, “What can we do to cause revival in the Church?” The narrator would say, as an aside, “He said this to test her, for He himself knew what He would do.”
Philip’s response was as worldly and limited as mine would be. He answered, “Well, I suppose if we were to give everyone only a snack, it would cost thousands of dollars to buy enough food!” I can’t fault him because I think very much like him. Asking me the same thing I would probably have answered something like, “Well, maybe we could have huge gatherings for worship and prayer and great teachers getting people passionate about discipleship, including lots of outreach to the lost and needy.” (as if we haven’t tried that before.)
What was Jesus doing here? Jesus was asking Philip to think bigger. He was stretching him and coaxing him to think with a different perspective than he was used to, a Kingdom mindset rather than a worldly mindset. What He really wanted Philip to do is to recognize that with Jesus things are going to be different than he’s experienced before.
I believe that God has answered my prayer from the beginning of the year.
Show us your glory God!
I believe He is doing something big; He is on the move. It doesn’t look at all like I thought it would with my small and limited thinking, but it is huge, and I believe if we look at it from the perspective that Jesus is stretching us toward, we will see that it is glorious!
Nothing in this world is clear this year. How should we respond to a novel virus that is infecting the world? Are masks effective in limiting transference of the virus or are they a means for an evil government to gain control of the people? Does testing for the virus give us accurate, truthful results or are the tests untrustworthy and another manipulation? Are Americans truly racists or are they far beyond where their ancestors were in race relations, and growing? Is the President Joe Biden or is the media manipulating the results and jumping the gun? And, if it is Joe Biden, is he a moderate who just wants what is best for all Americans or is he a puppet in the hands of the Deep State? All of those questions and more are bouncing back and forth on the internet and in our conversations and our minds this year.
I believe this year is our time to be stretched and tested in our faith.
Rather than look with worldly eyes at all of the chaos around us lets look to the Kingdom of God and see how He is working things out for good. He is helping us to remember that His truth is clear and to repent of our lack of faith in His Word. He is helping us to remember that all men are created in His image, worthy of love, and to repent of thinking more highly of ourselves than we think of others. He is helping us to remember that there has never been a worldly leader who has been able to save us but that He alone has taken the steps necessary to save us.
Nothing in the world has given us a future of freedom and peace like Jesus has. No man has taken the death that we were subjected to and died that death for us, except Jesus. Nobody has paid the price for the sin that we have committed except for Jesus. Nobody has made it possible for us to live eternally with God, just for the mere fact that we believe He did, except Jesus.
When I stretch my faith and think with a Kingdom mindset what I see is that this year is all about God’s glory. I see God calling his wayward Church to repentance, to turn back to Him and live for Him, not for the comforts of this world. I see God reminding us that Jesus is our only hope. He is the only way out of this mess. All other ways are hopeless and futile and lead to death and we need to put our trust in Him.
This is our year to remember who God is and who we are and tell everyone that we can about the hope that is in Him alone.