God likes to ask us questions that tweak our perceptions. If we live out of wrong perceptions then we stand a great chance of living with misconceptions. A misconception is when we miss the conception, or we cannot conceive what God is trying to impregnate us with.
In Mark chapter 6 we find a story where Jesus fed a lot of people [some scholars say upwards of 20,000 people total]. In verses 31 and 32 Mark records this exchange between Jesus and His disciples ~ ‘And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat). They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.’
In verse 33 Mark tells us this, “The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.” When people are hungry they will do desperate things for food. When people are spiritually hungry they will pay whatever price is necessary to get the bread of life from the Lord of Life.
A friend of mine likes to say – “If it’s alive it’s worth the drive.” In other words, where there is a church with life in it people do not mind driving long distances to get there, to get from there what God is doing there.
At our church in Brunswick, GA we have people who weekly drive from 7 different counties, 6 in Georgia and 1 in Florida just to be in our meetings, and most to be members of our church ministry. Some of our folks drive more than an hour one way to connect to us in Brunswick. The reason is the manifest presence of God. He is alive and doing very well in our church.
We are not a program based church!
We are a Presence based church!
Our priority is His Presence!
The people in Mark chapter 6 would not allow Jesus nor His disciples to get away with getting away. They pursued them to the solitary place they were trying to get to, to rest. The Greek word for “secluded” in verse 32 means ~
deprived of the aid and protection of others – especially of friends, acquaintances, kindred; solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited
Jesus was leading His disciples to a place where all of their dependence would be on Him and in their relationship to Him, and to all those who were desperately hungry for Him. A funny thing happened on the way to the secluded place – the multitudes wanted in on the action as well.
They were not following Jesus at a great cost to themselves because He was starting a feeding program. They were following Him because He was the One who gave life to people at their deepest levels of need. Most people will not pay a price to get their deepest needs met. They only want surface solutions so they can appear to be something they are not.
True discipleship costs us everything!
Most churches are filled, if they are filled, with people who are there because of friends, acquaintances, family, business connections or some other superficial reason. These things are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. They just should NOT be THE reason we are in the church we are in.
Paul the apostle wrote this in 1 Corinthians 12:18 ~ “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”
John the apostle wrote this in his Gospel ~ “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. But if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you!” [Green’s Literal Translation] This verse is used at funerals. It is a great verse to use at funerals but I do not think that was Jesus’ reason for saying it. Jesus wants to set us in our place [the place He has for us] in His body, on the planet.
These two verses clearly reveal that God wants to put us in our place.
The question is this, Will we allow God to put us in our place?
Peter said this,”As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 2:4,5 ESV]
Did you notice Peter said Christ Jesus was rejected by men? Jesus stayed true to Himself and to His Father in spite of man’s rejection. People make decisions on a lot of things, including where they will attend church because of the fear of being rejected. We will always grow best where God plants us. We will always grow best in an environment where we are not limited by a culture that limits God.
Also, did you notice Peter said we were being built up into a spiritual house, not a physical house? In other words, we should not depend on natural things to determine where we will be built up. And by the way, we must ask ourselves if we are really being built up in the place we have set ourselves. To be built up means that there is not a ceiling prohibiting your growth. We should be planted in a place where we will never stop growing [up, upward] in Christ.
In verse 34 of Mark chapter 6 we read these words ~ “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” Jesus was moved with compassion, not sympathy. Sympathy is powerless to change the circumstance. Compassion is a powerful emotion that compels involvement and intervention.
In verses 35 and 36 Mark reveals most people’s dilemma, ‘When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” The disciples were sympathetic to the crowds condition and had no solution to correct their condition.
This is the attitude of most Christian’s and the culture of most Christian churches.
“We and God are powerless to change your condition.
Go somewhere “else” to get your needs met.”
The disciples were very observant to what they saw as the obvious. “When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and IT IS QUITE LATE.”
I love what Mark writes in the next two verses [37 & 38], ‘But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”‘
First, Jesus commands them to get involved [“You give them something to eat”]. His command was intended to separate them from their sympathetic [sym/pathetic = together with/ miserably inadequate] mindset that only focused on what they saw, which was a lack of resources.
Their response was based out of their wrong perceptions and misconceptions. They said to Jesus, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” Their focus was on what they perceived was their lack, or what was not available. They saw a lack of food to feed the multitude. They saw that they would have to go somewhere else to get the supply.
Jesus saw something totally different. He said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” He was refocusing their vision on what they did have, what was available, and away from what they saw, which was a lack of supply.
The disciples saw impossibility! Jesus saw a miracle!
Jesus continued, “Go look!” Here He was requiring them to expend energy and effort. He was helping them to get their priorities right. People want God to do all of the work. Work is a part of creation, not the curse. Jesus put them to work so that they could co-labor with Him in the miracle.
It is interesting that when they looked they found more than what Jesus asked them about. He said, “How many loaves do you have [access to]?” They looked for loaves and found some fish too. Whenever we lose sight of what is not available [what we DO NOT see] we will see the abundance of what is available.
The word “available’ comes from two words. The first word is ‘avail’ and it means to use or take advantage of an opportunity or resource. It comes from an obsolete word meaning to value; and from the Latin word valere meaning be strong, be of value – and from the word ‘able’ which means having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something; Having considerable skill, proficiency, or intelligence. From the Latin word habilis = handy, and habere = to hold.
Knowing what you have is tied to where you live. If you live in the perception that you lack, then you will never conceive that there exists the possibility that what you do have is far more than what you believe you do not have.
It may be time for an address change!
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury