By Michael E. Brooks
“When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal on him'” (John 6:24-27 NKJV).
During the holiday season I was asked several times, “Do the people in Bangladesh and Nepal celebrate Christmas?” The answer is “yes,” but with an interesting twist.
In Bangladesh, it is common to have Muslims come to our Bible College asking for donations to help them celebrate their festivals of Corbani and Eid. However, in December, the same people will often return saying, “We want to celebrate your Christmas holiday with you. Will you give us a donation so we can buy food and presents?”
Interestingly those who will not listen to the message of the Gospel, and who brand Christians as pagans and unbelievers are quite willing to enjoy feasts and celebrations with them.
One might call this the holiday approach to religion. I don’t accept your faith, but if there is a party around, I want to be invited. Was this not the same attitude displayed by the Jewish multitudes in Galilee? Jesus accused them of coming to him just to be fed, rather than to listen to his teaching or receive his salvation.
There is little or no distinction however between these desires for the material benefits of Christianity and the motives frequently seen in so-called believers. How many Christians choose a church on the basis of social acceptability, economic potential, or physical convenience and comfort? How many are attracted by the promise of material blessings in return for their faith?
Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), but he did not promise that every believer would be made wealthy or that God’s gifts would always be of a material nature. Sadly, many imply otherwise, and millions are deceived into thinking that they must only claim faith in Jesus to be assured of ease and comfort in this life.
Jesus offers a better approach to life: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27). This life is temporary and uncertain. Eternal life in heaven is unending. It will never disappoint. We will never lose hope nor suffer pain nor disappointment. Let us not be drawn to Christ only for the things that will soon disappear. Let us rather trust him for salvation from sin and eternal life with our Father in Heaven.
By Michael E. Brooks