Recipe for success
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” This is what Jesus says in John 6, the day after he has fed the multitude, when a crowd comes after him looking for more to eat. He makes it clear to his newest admirers that his mission is not merely to make day-to-day life a little easier for them or anyone else. When Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,” he’s not suggesting himself as stiff competition for Hy-Vee. He offers us something truly life-sustaining: an encounter with the living God.
In Jesus, the God who created the universe comes into focus like never before, and the world that has always belonged to God is invited to know God aright – as a loving and faithful creator and sustainer of life. The gospel beckons us with the truth that we are children of God, and in Jesus we see not just what God is like, but also what a child of God looks like. Since he is fully human and fully divine, Jesus doesn’t just give us the clearest idea of God, he also shows us what it means to be truly human.
And this means Jesus helps us to answer a provocative question posed by one theologian: “What would it mean for me to succeed as a human being?” When we think of what success looks like, our culture encourages us to think mostly in terms of “food that perishes.” We might think of wealth, material gain, or status. But living as children of God and working for “the food that endures for eternal life” means wanting something much deeper than all of that. It means patterning our lives after Jesus. It means understanding, as he did, that because the God of all creation holds us in love, we are free to give ourselves away. Our world is hungry; this is the food it needs.