35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Welcome again to our friends from Rankin and Weldon Valley, it so great to be able to spend one Sunday a month with all of you. I hope you have enjoyed our experiences and the fellowship that they offer. Hopefully you are sitting with new people either now in worship or during the meal. We really get to know one another when we break bread with them. We have grown to make some wonderful relationships over the years and I hope that we can continue these joint services.
Today’s sermon is one that I find to be extremely relevant today. There are several forms of social media and some are friendlier than others. How many have Facebook? That is probably the most common for people who are middle aged or older. Social media is supposed to be fun and a way to catch up with people and make friends. Unfortunately, it is also the one in which people are constantly getting their news information and very political at times. Many people enjoy stealing others people’s things and posting them on their own walls. There is Instagram which is probably the friendliest. People taking pictures and posting about their lives. How many have that account? The snarkiest is by far and away Twitter. People can be down right cruel on this social media sight. The attacks are often personal in nature as well. Yes, there are practical sides to it like the text characters are limited. It started at 140 characters and now it is doubled to 280 so they must be concise. Another add in that is popular are hashtags in which people can follow specific hashtags like maybe the Rockies or the Broncos. Or events or movements like the #MeToo movement about women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. It is said “hashtag” and then whatever the words or phrases are. They also make things up like emotions #TGIF and #makesmesohappy. All with no spaces and just ran together.
When a major event happens in the world especially if it is in the U.S. we see it all over social media. And when it is something good that happens often Twitter will be nice for a day or two and then they will get snarky about the person and their motives or actions. This is what I imagine would happen to Jesus on Twitter today when he fed 5,000 men not including the women and children. Twitter would blow up and people would go nuts. This is the third week in a row that the gospel lesson focuses on how the feeding was a major event in their life according to John’s account. And now the story picks up after Jesus fed them, they wanted to make him king, he freaks and goes to the hills, disciples go across the sea of Galilee, Jesus meets them in a boat by walking on the water, and now the crowds have found him on the other side. Last week they wanted more bread and Jesus said I am the Bread of Life. The people all start complaining about Jesus now because he won’t give them bread they take to Twitter and start to crucify him. They people say who does he think he is saying he is from heaven he is Joseph’s son. And only God can save people and forgive sins Jesus is just a carpenter’s boy. He is no God.
Can you imagine the hashtags that would come out? #Josephson or #WanttobeGod or maybe #MereMortal or #GiveUsBread. They claimed he was a fraud and I’m sure then FOXNEWS and CNN would have widely different stories on this phenomenon. NPR would do and in-depth investigation to see who this Jesus really was behind the tunic. Some people would be protesting where he was demanding to be fed while others would be calling him a fake. Why? Because he fed them and then said to follow him.
Jesus goes further today and says look Moses gave all your ancestors’ bread and they are dead. The bread that I give is for eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Yet the people were not satisfied even though they had been given a free lunch just two days ago and now have everlasting life, they wanted full bellies instead. They were selfish and wanted in on the secrets. They wanted to feel and be treated special. They wanted to possess, and Jesus wanted them to share. More ammunition for the fake trial and the crowds to yell crucify him. We are so accustomed to complaining when we receive instead of being kind and grateful.
What’s the answer? I think Paul tried to tell us what the Christian response is. The people of Ephesus were bickering constantly with each other and trying to be “one-uppers”. You know them because you did something they had to one up your story with something better. If I said I was at the feeding of Jesus and ate free bread the one upper would say well I ate bread and fish. The story is true, but they just have to #BeBetterThanYou, #OneUpper. Paul says to the people look we can all get along if we just respect one another. Don’t tell lies, if you get angry don’t let the sun go down on that anger deal with it. Quit stealing and being a thief, get a job and stop robbing from others. Don’t let evil talk come out of your mouths but build one another up.
That is the hardest thing for us to do it seems today. We seem to get more satisfaction out of reading about someone and how they are fake or not true to the way they appear then we would read about the good deeds themselves. That’s why social media is controlling our thoughts and the negative thoughts are outweighing the positive right now. When politics are brought up instead of celebrating our diversity we get angry because someone thinks different than we do, and the conversations turn to #NotMyAmerica.
Paul said, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:30-32) We have lost our filter, the little voice inside us that says, he don’t say that, it will grieve the Holy Spirit or make God sad. We hide behind our screen names and hashtags and to hell with anyone else’s feelings or beliefs. If we think it we throw it out there. The it is for everyone to se and the tone turns to bitterness and being snarky and everyone likes it
Paul says this is how we are to act, “5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us[c] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We as the church the believers in Christ are to be imitators of love and turning the other cheek. Celebrating the good that happens because there is a lot of good in our world. Up-lifting those who try to do what is right and not tear them down or make fun of them. In our county and each of our communities there are some positive movements under foot. Things that we can rally around and help share God’s love in a Christian way. We have an uphill battle as Christians because we as Christians have allowed the gospel to be a dividing force instead of uniting. We have sought power over care and compassion of our neighbor. We have used the Bible to tear down others instead of building them up.
But the story is not over, and we still have work to do. We can be the difference in this neck of the woods. We can show that love and compassion reside in our sanctuaries. Our actions can show that we care about all of God’s creation no matter the color, shape or size. We have the power to share the manna from heaven that gives eternal life, the gospel of Jesus and his love for all of us. As we wrap up another summer together I pray for each of you that you will have good health and a mind like Christ. I ask that you do the same for me and Sue. And that together in our county and in our towns, we can make a difference in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.