Tom and I are back at our home in Ohio and got to attend worship at Lewis Center United Methodist Church yesterday. Rev. Phil Rode preached on Romans 15 and it was a good sermon. As often happens when I am listening to a sermon, Rev. Phil mentioned something – not a major point in the sermon – that caught my attention. I am still mulling it over.
Rev. Phil mentioned the miracle of feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14. Here is the story from the NIV.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Rev. Phil said the problem Jesus highlighted wasn’t the hunger of the people. Instead, Jesus was telling the disciples “Your “we” is too small.” The disciples had divided the people listening to Jesus into us and them. The disciples had enough for the disciples but didn’t want to share with the crowd. “Let them get their own food.” resounds clearly in the words of the disciples.
Wow. What a powerful idea and what an indictment on the way I usually act and think. I’ve got mine and you’ve got yours is not at all a Christian idea. But how jealously we guard what we think should be ours. Whether it is power, money, personal possessions, time – we are reluctant to give and share with others. We are happy to share with those we consider part of us – our “we” – but resent any implication that we should go above and beyond to share with “them,” however we define them.
Jesus, on the other hand, constantly reminds us that there is enough for all when we let go us of us and them. When we expand our “we.” There is enough food. Enough money. Enough grace. Enough love. Enough acceptance. When we open our hands and heart and stop grasping our little so closely, Jesus makes enough for all of us. He does it still, just as he did when he fed the 5,000 from five loaves and two fish.
What size is your “we”? Where is your “we” too small? How can you expand the idea and trust that Jesus will provide enough? How can we share his abundant love with all of his beloved creatures? What can you share today with someone in need?