In America’s highly consumer-driven environment the one-size-fits-all concept has become a popular selling mantra. It’s used to peddle everything from sweaters to baseball hats. Over the years, politicians and authors have used the phrase to appeal to wider audiences. Even automakers seem to have seized on the concept by loading their cars up with every sort of accessory possible: video displays, individual A/C units and tailgates that transform into step ladders.
Unfortunately, churches are not immune to such marketing strategies. Programs that appeal to the masses (think yoga, book clubs, coffee shops, and the like) keep the church calendar on over-drive. Worse, theology is often watered down, crosses are removed and the word “sin” is cast away so as not to offend.
Can you imagine if God operated in the same manner? The ramifications are hard to imagine. Fortunately, we don’t need to dwell on that because we serve a God of grace and mercy.
As you recall, two Sundays ago we listened to a video sermon by Pastor Rich Jones, a Calvary pastor from Oregon.
While listening to his message on the Jubilee, I was struck by a subtler concept of the Jubilee as found in Leviticus 25:8-19. Because Jews were mandated to not work the fields during the 50th year, the Lord provided for their sustenance needs. But the provision didn’t end there. Since they had to reseed the following year, they still couldn’t rely on their on crops. So the Lord provided for them for the second straight year. And since seeds do not germinate immediately, the crops didn’t yield for another year. That means the Lord took care of them for three straight years. Three years!
That alone is impressive, but it fits with Scripture. Look at Luke 12:
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!(verses 22-24)
God’s approach here is vastly different than what we read in Exodus when the Israelites left Egypt for their 40-year journey to the Promised Land. During their travels, God provided manna for them, not at a year at time, but daily. Exodus 19 reveals that God promised to shower them with daily manna, as much as they could gather, but with one caveat: they could only take what they could eat that day. They could not store it for future use:
And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. (verses 19-21)
Our God does not use a one-size-fits-all approach for his people. He carefully plans and orchestrates according to what is best for his people. We have a finite understanding of our needs and the future. God does not. He knows the bigger picture because he’s the author of the bigger picture.
In John 6, we see yet another approach to feeding the people. Using just two fish and five loaves, Jesus was able to feed 5,000 people, with some to spare. Verses 12 and 13 tell us:
And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
As humans, we often lament what we see as a shortage. We tend to covet what others have. But when we let go of self, we can be sure that the Lord has the very recipe for what we need.
That is definitely something to chew on.
Feasting with you,