“It’s a dog-eat-dog world … and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.” It may have been Norm Peterson’s most memorable line from the classic TV sitcom “Cheers.” He was right about the dog-eat-dog part, anyway, because we live in a world where resources are limited but human wants are not. So, we vie for a piece of the pie. (The study of how we do so is called economics.)
Imagine, then, Philip’s sense of helplessness when Jesus asked him where they might buy food for the 5,000 people now flocking toward them. “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”1 the disciple exclaimed. We can feel his panic, can’t we? So much demand and so little supply!
Then with just five small loaves of barley and two small fish, Jesus gave thanks for the bounty and distributed it to the crowd for an all-you-can eat buffet. Filled to the gills and 12 basketfuls of leftovers later, it occurred to the people that “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world,”2 and they aimed “to come and make him king by force.”3 Why? They had reduced God to something of a neighborhood convenience store. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus would tell them when they came seeking Him later, “you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”4
The kingdom of God, however, is not something we seize by force; it is something we receive through grace. When we do, we find His economy is not one of scarcity, but of abundance—what we strive to earn, God gives for free; though we tend to hoard, He overflows; and as we give away, He multiplies. Why? Because though our desire for Him has its limits, His boundless love for us knows no constraints. And that’s something to cheer about.
“Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
Father, your love for me far surpasses my understanding, and your care for me exceeds anything I deserve. Everything I need is found in you. Thank you. In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is freedom.
1 John 6:7
2 John 6:14
3 John 6:15
4 John 6:26
[Click here to read today’s Scripture in John 6:1-15.]