If I were to ask you the question – “What kind of work does God want from you?” – what kind of answers would come to your mind?
If you’re like me you probably start thinking about a whole slew of Christian virtues and actions. You probably think about healing people, praying for people and preaching the Gospel.
Surely, that is primarily the kind of ‘work’ that God wants from us, right?
What is interesting is the answer that Jesus tells us that we should have to this question.
In John 6, Jesus’ disciples have just seen Him perform the impossible by feeding 5,000 people with just a couple of pieces of fish and a few loaves of bread. In response to seeing this miracle take place they tell Jesus that they want to perform God’s work and want know what they should do.
Jesus’ answer in John 6:29 blows me away.
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
When I read this I’m a little bit surprised to say the least. I expect Jesus to respond to their question and instruct them on things like performing miracles, proclaiming the Gospel and doing the seemingly impossible for massive crowds of people. I expect Jesus to build on top of their desire to do the works of God and inspire them to get out there and do something!
Instead, Jesus simply tells them that they should believe in Him.
Jesus response is so surprising to me, because of how surprisingly simple His instructions are. He doesn’t give a step-by-step plan, an instruction manual or how-to course for pulling off miracles.
He just tells them to believe.
I think Jesus says this because he sees straight into motive of the disciples’ question.
I think Jesus could tell that disciples were looking for an instruction manual. They were looking for Jesus to tell them how to do the extraordinary and the miraculous.
The disciples, like most Christians today (including myself), were focused on the spectacular. Not that there is anything wrong with desiring to see God move in spectacular ways, but I think we sometimes overlook the simple acts of obedience that God desires to see from us.
When we realize that the work God wants from us is to believe in Him then that allows us to live in love, not legalism.
We can be freed from the responsibility to perform and be what we were intended to be all along.
We can be the carriers of His light instead of trying to be the light itself. We can be living vessels of His ability, rather than living trophies of our own ability.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7