We must live as global-minded Christians who are active on a local level. This blog is a conversation to equip and challenge you to live glocally.

Your Fish & Loaves (Part 2)

Your Fish & Loaves (Part 2)

I love stories about food, especially the one I'm talking about again in this post. I wrote an initial post on this passage of the Bible (you can read it here) and this is the second part of my discussion on this passage. 

Let me share the story again with you: 

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
— John 6: 1-13

Now imagine we knew how this story should and could end and we’re standing next to Jesus here on this mountainside but rather than offering up his lunch, we see this young boy hiding his lunch so that he wouldn’t be asked to give it up.

Now that wouldn’t be that surprising would it? Boys have black-holes for stomachs and aren’t good at sharing - so this would be par for the course for a young boy.

So imagine we see him refusing to give up his lunch - wouldn’t we get anxious? We’d say, “I promise you, there will be enough for everyone! You’ll get your fill. You just need to share!” (I imagine saying in this in a parental because I said so type of voice.) We’d try and convince him to share his lunch because we know that it can impact thousands of people! By giving up what he has, he could help so many others!

But aren’t we all like that young boy?

We all have been given things in our lives.

Whether it be time, possessions, power, love, compassion, money, connections, joy, strength, or social skills.

And how often are we tempted to say, “I barely have enough of (fill in the blank) for myself. Why should I share?”

The simple answer is because: We can - like Jesus - bless it, multiply it, and share it.

Now I’m not just speaking about money here - though that is a part of this. I’m talking about time for your family or friends or mentoring or volunteering. And I’m talking about the authority and responsibility you have been entrusted with at work or with a hobby or side hustle. I’m also talking about the resources - financial, housing, social connections- that you have. And I’m talking about the intangibles - like loving on people, celebrating, sharing joy.

God has given us all something - and we are responsible for what we do with that. It may not feel like much right now. In fact it may not feel like enough at all! But like the young man in this story, when we bless it, multiply it, and share it:

God will do what only God can do.

There’s another story in the Bible that re-enforces this point:

In Matthew 25:14-30 we find this story:

It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. 19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ 22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ 24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’ 26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. 28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

God has called us to be stewards - not collectors or managers.

What do we mean by steward? Someone who looks after and makes good use of what she or he is entrusted with.

And this is different than a collector or manager because:

  • Collectors hold onto things but do nothing with them because you might reduce the value of it. So collectors make sure no one touches - breathes on - or even looks at what they are in charge of.
  • And a steward is not a manager because a manager is in charge of following the rules and nothing more - they have no stake in what they are in charge of because they have no ownership. They do what they are told, enforce the rule book, and clock out at 5 pm without any extra thought about what they are managing.

Stewards take responsibility for what they have been given. And like the parable of the money investments, they are held accountable for making the most of what they have been given.

You are called to be a steward because God has given you responsibility for things in your life. And - like the feeding of the thousands - we must bless it, multiply it, and share it.

What will you do with what you’ve been given?

Will you hold tightly to it believing that you don’t have enough or afraid that you’ll lose it all?

Will you take your skills, abilities, personality, love, passions, and possessions and put them on a shelf where they are safe and insured?

Or will you take what you have been entrusted with and run with it?

Will you thank God for it (bless it), work hard to make the most of it (multiply it), and share it with those around you (share it)?

Now, to steal a line from a mentor of mine: “Let me say this in slow motion for us.”

In this miracle of Jesus feeding the thousands, Jesus took the young boy’s meal and He blessed it, multiplied it, and shared it with those around Him.

When we bless something it means we thank God for it. When we say: "God - thank you - this is enough. I am content with what You have given me." Now this is not complacent (because the next step requires action), but content and grateful in what God has given you.

And then to multiply it requires action. This might look like investing time in getting really good at an instrument and joining a band or your church's worship team, Or volunteering a few times a month with a cause you really believe in. Perhaps it’s putting away your phone at night and realizing you do have more time to spend with your family. Or using your resources to help others rather than adding to all the things you already own.

Because remember: we are called to be stewards - to make a return on the investment that God has given us.

But we don’t multiply our gifts to benefit ourselves - we do for the benefit of others. Like the boy giving up his lunch to feed the thousands of people that day, we can share what we have with others.

And if you don’t think any of those examples relate with you - here’s a few ideas we all can do: Eat, pray, and celebrate. Jean Vanier put it this way:

There are 3 activities that are absolutely vital in the creation of community. The first is eating together around the same table. The second is praying together. And the third is celebrating together. By celebrating, I mean to laugh...to have fun, to give thanks together for life.

In our lives we can hold tight to what we have - or we can bless it, multiply it, and share it.

We can offer what we have and allow God to do amazing things with it. Or we can keep it to ourselves.

What is God asking you to be a good steward of? What is he entrusting you with? Because, like the young boy in this miracle account, we all have something to offer - we all have something to bring to the table. Every single one of us.

Ask God to show you where the fish and loaves are in your life.

And it may not add up. And that’s okay. That’s where it gets fun. That’s where God shows up and shows off.

How will you respond to fear?

How will you respond to fear?

Your Fish & Loaves (Part 1)

Your Fish & Loaves (Part 1)