“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” John 6:60
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:66
Some teachings are difficult to accept.
Some teachings are difficult to obey.
Some are both.
The hardest teachings are the ones that call us to do something we don’t want to do. Maybe we don’t want to do it because it is unpleasant. Maybe we don’t want to do it because it doesn’t make sense to us. Maybe we don’t want to do it because we think it unfair. Maybe we don’t want to do it because it directly challenges what we have decided we want to do for our personal pride or pleasure.
When those difficult teachings present themselves, they provide us with an opportunity to express our trust in God and grow our faith. Or they provide us with an opportunity to demonstrate that we are more concerned about our will, our pleasure than we are about our relationship with God.
When those difficult teachings present themselves, they provide us with an opportunity to say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” They also give us an opportunity to say, “Not your will, but Mine be done.” The way we respond reveals who is our god. God or self. The way we respond reveals who is our lord. Jesus or ego. The way we respond reveals who is controlling our life. Spirit or flesh.
So we see these people in John’s gospel turn away from Jesus. They were people who had been following Jesus. But they stopped. They turned back. They no longer followed Jesus. Why? The teaching was difficult. They were being challenged. They were being given opportunity to express their faith by demonstrating their trust. They chose another path.
How sad when we choose our will over God’s. How sad when we run up against a difficult teaching and choose to turn back and stop following. I actually had someone say to me, “I know what God says, but I care more about me. I’m going to do what makes me happy.”
What makes it even sadder is when we don’t own up to our self-deification; when we try to justify our own behavior by recreating God in our own image. “Well, I know what the Bible says, but I know God wants me to be happy. So I’m sure it’s God’s will for me to have sex with this woman who is married to another man.”
Have you run into a difficult teaching?
Don’t turn back.