Are you ever distracted? I got distracted while preparing for a trip. I arrived home in the dark after some errands. I began to clean out my car for a weekend journey to Memphis. I gathered my most important books and my laptop computer and put them in my computer bag. I set my bag down and began to gather up my other items. I grabbed my coat, some mail, and some groceries. I came inside, packed my suitcase for the trip and went to bed. The next morning, as I was packing my wife’s car for our trip, my computer bag was missing. After searching everywhere, I realized that the last time I had seen it was when I set it down next to my car the night before. Now it was gone! I felt so stupid. I had let myself get distracted by good things, and in the process, I lost something even more valuable. That lost bag held an expensive computer, important papers, and my favorite books. The coat, groceries and other items I brought inside in the dark were good things, but they had distracted me from something essential.

Jesus warns us that sometimes we let the good things in life distract us from the best things. Because of simple compassion, Jesus fed a hungry crowd in John chapter 6. Then when the crowd followed him, he said this, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus’ point is that sometimes we can allow a full belly to distract us from sensing our spiritual neediness before God. Does this every happen to you? I know I’m easily distracted. God made the world so that it is good for us to satisfy our physical needs. However, human beings often have a way of turning our physical needs into our only needs. We become spiritually short-sighted. C.S. Lewis describes this in a wonderful essay he wrote called “The Weight of Glory”: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Are you too easily pleased? Historically, Christian fasting is a way of remembering that Jesus is our true bread. This can also be twisted into a work of merit instead of an exercise of trust. Christians should not fast to demonstrate their worthiness or spiritual value to God. Fasting is a temporary tool to remember that in our physical hunger, God is enough. Jesus told them that they should not work for temporary food, but eternal food (John 6:27) Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28-29) Do you believe?  Consider temporarily fasting from certain foods, favorite drinks, or screens as a way to remind yourself that Jesus is your true food. God’s goal is not for us to be hungry and uncomfortable, this is why fasting should never be seen as an end in itself. However, when times of hunger and suffering come, we have an opportunity to remember that God meets our ultimate needs. We have an opportunity to do the work of belief.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:35-37)  Don’t be distracted. Run to Jesus.

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Dave McMurry

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