Belief

John 6:56-69

This is the last Sunday of our delving into Jesus being the bread and drink, flesh and blood that gives life to the world. This time it is not the Jews who are murmuring, it is his disciples. Now when we think of Jesus disciples we automatically think of the twelve we know, in fact there are a couple of gospel that give us more than just the core of twelve. It is these, from the crowd that has been following, maybe from Samaria and the women at the wells village, maybe even others that are the ones questioning. It is too hard a thing for them to accept because it asks them to drop all they've known about Moses and the law and accept that something unclean, blood, will give them life. This is what John always comes round to in the end is belief because Jesus then turns to the twelve and asks if it is too hard for them and they say they believe.

We talk a lot about what we believe and don't believe, like a litmus test of measuring up to belief. Does belief mean we have to be saved, does belief mean we have to live the right way, condemn people's sins? Or does belief mean we struggle through faith, through things that are difficult, even difficult for us to hear, is it in just living an ordinary life? We all struggle with belief at sometime and we make our decision, just like these disciples today.

The thing is belief is something we can't make or manufacture for someone else. Belief is something each of us has to come to terms with on our own, in our own way. Jesus doesn't throw out condemnations to the disciples who leave, he turns to his own twelve and asks if they can receive this hard teaching, this rough faith. They respond to what they have already seen, experienced about Jesus and say yes, they believe. They have abided with him the longest, they have been with him through the storm, through the villages, through a feeding that shouldn't have been possible. They believe.

Can we believe? Through empty churches and church closings, to part time rectors or going back to mission status there are those calling into question what the church believes. Just this week Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry gave another resounding sermon on us being a part of the Jesus movement, of pushing ourselves outside of the church in order to become something new. There are all kinds of books for sale how to grow, how to embrace emergence, how to see the cultural changes, embrace new music, new ways of being church or simply being spiritual but not religious.

If we get right down to it there is something about abiding that is real too. Jesus' church growth strategy here isn't an encouraging one. After all he is only left with twelve followers. These are the twelve who grow a movement though. These are the twelve who witness to his teachings in four gospel. These are the twelve who have an incredible thing happen on the day of Pentecost and aren't afraid to speak in a new way in the streets to the Jewish believers coming to a festival. Can we abide and become infused with the belief of where we might be led to? Because true belief is the best witness there is.