by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
As I considered this journey of “abiding zeal” I realized something: zeal, passion for Christ must mature as well as be maintained.
This love for Christ cannot be maintained as a middle-school infatuation but must take on an ever-maturing, deepening quality. If it fails to do so, immaturity will cause it to be more hype than reality and result in a relationship which is experiential based.
The result? I become like the teenager chasing a summer camp experience as I jump from one church, conference, seminar, trip to the altar, and top selling author to another.
All of scripture seems to bear witness to the fact that God intends to mature my love for Him as well as cause it to grow brighter and brighter unto His appearing. This maturing process is the “gymnasium of life” in a broken world (Hebrews 12).
God intends for me to face the truth: Everything that distracts from my love for Him is empty and fleeting (Ecclesiastes).
The danger in this journey to a mature, deep and passionate love for Christ and Christ alone is that I will grow weary, then bitter, then apathetic and drift into deadness. The scripture warns of weariness in a number of areas:
Weary in my battle with sin – Hebrews 12:3-4. In this I’m encouraged to look to Christ and His endurance in His suffering. This battle with sin is never over in this life! As this battle intensifies within and without, as iniquity abounds, the danger is my “love will wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).
Weary in well doing – Galatians 6:7-10. This weariness sets in during that season between sowing and reaping. This is a “lifetime achievement award” and maybe longer! Much of our sowing in this life will be harvested by others and the fruit will only be known in eternity (I Corinthians 3:5-4:5).
Weary with serving/ministry – This is the setting for the miracle in the wilderness, the feeding of the 5,000 (Matt. 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).
This entire scenario is set by Jesus for a specific purpose: To see how the disciples will respond when faced with the challenge of feeding the multitude under stress (John 6:6).
The backdrop to this miracle is essential. The disciples have just returned from their first “mission trip” (without Christ), the news of the death of John the Baptist has just arrived (John was Jesus cousin and for many of the disciples he had been the one who introduced them to Jesus and mentored them in the early stages of their faith), and Jesus has intentionally taken them into the wilderness to find some peace, quiet and rest (Mark 6:30-31).
This is the setting for the miracle. The disciples are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. The multitude shows up and Jesus says, “Feed them!” Right! Have you checked the balance in the checkbook lately? Send them away! That is the response of the disciples. We’ve all been there. It’s the last straw!
A multitude of at least 5,000. A month before this the disciples would have been ecstatic to see such a great following but when you’re drained on every level it’s just a burden.
What should be a blessing is now just another problem. Send them away? But it’s the wilderness. There is no place to go.
They can go to surrounding villages and fend for themselves! It’s the kids, the wife, the husband after a day of non-stop demands!
This weariness is a never-ending challenge for anyone, especially those who are striving to live for Christ in a demanding world. It’s tough to remember the truth the disciples learned (or should have learned) in this miracle: “I’m only responsible to serve what Christ supplies!”
I hope these final thoughts will help as we face this journey together. Remember Paul’s example! Think often on God’s “constraining love” and “amazing grace” by a regular meditating on the Cross. Remember to pray for one another for the “journey is too long for those who have no bread” (Luke 11:6).
“Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” Isaiah 40:28-31.