Abundance and separation are the themes of today’s passages.
Manna and Quail fill our Exodus story: “In the evening quails come up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance.”
This story is a reminder of the “daily bread” we can expect from our Lord, something that made the Israelites a little nervous, and left them trying to store up more for later. Eating is central. But so is trust. The Lord demands both.
This “daily bread” is increasingly difficult to trust in – in a world of broken promises, hungry people, and 401ks.
John begins to weave his long discourses together: “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you;” “All of this is given so that you may love one another;” “If they persecute or hate you, remember they did the same to me first;” and “Servants are not greater than their masters, but now I call you friends, not servants.”
All of this is troubling. Where is he going? What is he saying? I have thought about this passage at great length, having first encountered it in depth in an undergraduate class in Greek. Our goal was to simply translate, but I kept second guessing myself, because it seemed like simple, straight-forward Greek, and yet I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. I was sure I was missing something.
Here is what I have decided this passage means (although a year from now ask me and I will have a different answer): “We do not belong to the world. We are different because of our affiliation with Christ.”
As we live into this separation, we encounter an abundance of love that supercedes even bread from heaven. We encounter a freedom from bondage above and beyond any Old Testament writer could have imagined. The abundance of love means that our daily lives are changed, and that everywhere we see those bearing the fruit of God’s love, experiencing that abundance and fruit through the acts of love we see in each other.
We can also find comfort in knowing that if the outside world is confused or downright disagrees with what we are doing, we don’t listen to that, but only to Christ. This is not the business world, where only corporate profits or efficiency or sales growth count. The only growth we are interested in is growth of the fruit of the spirit.
Now that makes for some struggles, for if you want in Noah’s ark sometimes one realizes it is a smelly ark, with its own inadequacies. But we are all in this together on a ship of grace that overcomes the world itself, breaking the rules, and inviting everyone to become enveloped in love unbounded.