Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s
“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”
Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider
“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”
Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work
“The way we’re working isn’t working.”
Leadership: 7 of the Hardest Paradigms I Had to Learn to be an Effective Leader
“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”
Short term missions: 24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing …
“… Talk more than you listen. …”
Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?
“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”
“Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, please have something to eat!’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat you fellows know nothing about!’ So the disciples were saying to each other, ‘You don’t think somebody brought him something to eat while we were away, do you?’ Jesus says to them, ‘My food is to do the will of the One Who Sent Me and to complete his mission.'” (John 4.31-32)
Fulfilling work, we learn from Jesus’ remark, is physically full-filling. When one feels one’s work is the very will of God, Jesus seems to be suggesting, one feels even physically nourished in body, not to mention what such a conviction does to soul and spirit. Jesus is teaching his disciples here to find the will of God for one’s work and in one’s work, and that this finding feeds, even physically.
A wag once said that every time one goes to the refrigerator one is looking for God. What he meant is that sometimes life is so unfulfilling that only food (or drink or drugs) can satisfy the soul, not to mention the body. (Might our passage address addictions?) An antidote to addiction is fulfilling work. One fruit of this passage for Christian readers is the provocation of questions such as: Am I in the will of God? Do I have even a physical sense of the satisfaction my work can bring? What vocational decision should I make to be “filled”? (“Do a thorough moral inventory.” The Twelve-Step Programs, founded on Christian premises by the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker and Bill W. – have been deply helpful in raising basic questions like these.)
In our story Jesus is now the model Christian worker. He has already taught us the basics of Christian Evangelism (vv. 7-15) and of Christian Worship (vv. 16-26). He is now teaching us the basics of Christian Work or Mission (vv. 27-42). The fulfilling will of The One Who Sent Jesus does not need to be direct evangelism. “Are all evangelists?” asked Paul in effect (1 Cor. 12.19; cf. Eph. 4.11). The fulfilling will of The One Who Sent Jesus is to be about the work for which God gifted one in creation and for which God calls one in Jesus’ re-creation of his people into New Life. The Reformation doctrine of vocation taught disciples to find in their humblest work the highest service of God and neighbor.
Jesus’ earlier vocational teaching in the Synoptic Gospels (often in connection with his disciples’ all-too-human quest for “greatness” or recognition) taught disciples to find their greatness and their greatest satisfaction in service, in going down. I believe our present text is the Johannine equivalent of Jesus’ Synoptic texts and is saying, quite simply: “You will find that doing the will of God is even the most physically satisfying way to live.”
Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), pp.274