What do you work hard at? School? Sports? Music?
Christianity is very different from every other religion. In every other religion you have to do good works in order to make God happy. If you do enough good things you can earn your way to heaven. Religion is sort of like getting good grades in order to move on to the next grade level, or scoring enough points in order to win the game. But that’s not how Christianity works at all. In fact, Jesus tells us that the only “good work” we have to do is to simply believe in him. Listen to how he said it here in John’s gospel:
John 6:27-29. 27[Jesus said]Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Jesus said these words right after he had fed 5,000 people with just a little bit of bread and fish (do you know that story?). Jesus said that they should not work for the bread that perishes (rots). Jesus is reminding them about how the Israelites in the wilderness had to gather the bread called manna that God sent them from heaven. Each day the people had to work to gather it up. By the next morning the manna would all be rotten. They worked hard for bread that didn’t last.
Instead, Jesus says, work for the bread that gives you eternal life. But read verse 29 again. Jesus says that the work is to simply believe in him.
If we don’t ever believe in Jesus and trust him to forgive us and to take away our sins, we will be separated from God forever. If we don’t keep trusting in Jesus each day we will just become more and more worried, and angry, and selfish. Or, worse yet, we will think that we can be good enough to go to heaven on our own. We will become less loving instead of more loving. So we must do the only work that God requires of us – believe in Jesus. Count on him alone and not yourself. Then you will truly be alive.
Because of Jesus the only “good work” we have to do is to believe in him.
With Jesus we can count on him to love us in each moment of each day.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
At your next meal together talk about how Jesus is like food. Just like we have to eat every day to stay alive, we have to believe Jesus every day to stay alive in him.
Jesus, help me to simply believe in you and what you did on the cross. Amen.