25. Let God do the Math

As post 24 shows, the feeding of the 5,000 finds the disciples overwhelmed and unable to make a connection between the power they knew while sharing the good news and the immediate physical hunger literally sitting right at their feet.

Here are twelve men fresh from a triumphant missionary journey. They are filled with elation over the results of their trip during which, in relying on others for their food, they never went hungry. Now they themselves see thousands of hungry people, but are unable to imagine providing even a morsel of food, much less a meal. It reminds me of our own futile thinking when we acknowledge the degree of hunger and want in the world; we can’t begin to imagine how we might help.

Tim Chester writes that “we need a theology of leftovers.”[1] When we are faced with insurmountable odds, Jesus asks us to do what we can, where we can, with what we have. If we faithfully commit our minds and gifts to him, and make sure all our own efforts point to him and his glory, he will be faithful to multiply them in ways we can’t envision- ways which take what we offer, small as it may seem, and distribute it with hospitality and grace with the result that there are unbelievable leftovers for future needs. This is how people hungry for meaning and significance and love are fed. We would do well to let God do the math; where we see only addition or subtraction, God performs multiplication, oftentimes in an exponential fashion. Flour becomes bread. Bread becomes a meal. A meal becomes a banquet. A banquet becomes a feast.

The entire meal of bread and fish shared among thousands illustrates yet again one of Jesus’ most frequent models of mission: that meal and gospel are complements. Every time we sit down to a meal with others, we have an opportunity to teach about God and share the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. These meal practices don’t need to be complicated, expansive, or expensive, just consistent.

In post 26 we will think about hospitality that tries too hard (think Martha).

The weather is warming up.  Why not have someone over this week for a picnic?

~Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

Featured image credit: KingofKingSermon.png

[1] Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission around the Table, p. 62.

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