When people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “surely he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” – John 6:14
They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you” – John 6:30
Humanity is immensely fickle. We are prepared, on the whole, to do or say anything to get what we need or want, such is our insecurity. Who will help us if we don’t help ourselves?
We are connected with a couple whose lives are messy. They have an unwanted one-year-old and are addicts. Their tendency is to drift in and out of our lives, depending on their needs. When the ‘God stuff’ we bring to them is too much, they drift away. They can do without him for now. Just recently, we became rather concerned about the mixing of a lifestyle of drugs and bringing up a toddler, and told them so in as loving a way as we knew how. The response was fierce, how dare we “Jesus freaks”… and on it went.
Their substance abuse though, caused them to write off their car, and having nobody else to turn to, they reached out to us. Perhaps the Jesus people weren’t so bad. Would you help us? We joyously laughed at their fickleness.
The opposite of fickleness is to remain steadfast. That doesn’t mean that we don’t know exactly what is going on around us, but it means we are able to live through it. Jesus was steadfast, and remains so. Earlier in Matthew, it said he would not entrust themselves to them, it means that he knew exactly what they (we) are really like. When it all becomes too hard, God is shoved to the side and we stamp our feet to get our own way. ‘Show us a sign’ we yell at him.
Jesus loved people regardless of who they were, or what they thought they might be able to do for him. He healed them whether they believed in him afterwards or not, he forgave them whether they were grateful, he loved them even when he knew they would commit an atrocity against him personally. He was in all his actions, steadfast.
How do we become like him?
As I was thinking about these verses over the past few weeks, I realised that we move away from being fickle when we root ourselves in Jesus. When we are not dependent on the opinion of others, when we no longer care what people really think, when we understand that we will not get everything we want on this earth, and in fact the very worst may happen, then we can begin to enjoy a steady life, filled with contentment and peace.
The Apostle Paul understood this perhaps more than anyone. Throughout his beautiful letters, he refers time and again to the changing circumstances around him, yet he himself is anchored. What is it though that he has learned to anchor himself with, so that such circumstances, wearing as they may be, didn’t drag him down? It is the constancy of the love of God. Magnificently in Romans 8:31-39 we are given a glimpse of what Paul holds onto. The fact that God loves him through Christ, and that no matter what happens to him in this life, it is a love that will continue on forever.
I have watched this in my own life. I think as a young man I was the prince of fickle, able to change my mind on any whim or desire that needed gratifying. Living only for the moment, I was the master of mistrust. Looking back, it seems hard to believe I am the same person, if we met now I wonder if we would be strangers? His love now permeates my life. God has changed me, and the more he has, the more I have asked him too.
But the change process can be tough, we don’t change easily.
It is this constancy, this steadfastness that we must so desperately share with others. Many of the people we meet are tired of life. They have tried all the world has to offer and it has come up short. They want, something or someone who is reliable. We should introduce them to the steadfast one.
But, it takes time. Time for people to see who the answer really is, time for them to change. In the meantime, mostly they remain fickle as the crowds were with Jesus. Feed us one day, crucify him the next, just for a few coins.
We love our friends who waver, because we want them to see, to know the one who does not. We want to show them that there is another way, a better way – not our way, but his way. Delightfully, we can relate. We are no better, which makes it so wonderful, we have simply been changed.
We must tell others, that he, the one who is constant, who is true, can change them as well. All they must do is ask. Let us begin that this week because he asks us too. Then, if they invite us, lets walk with them as he changes them and us as well. What a delight!