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the heresy of moreism

Bread Blog

In John chapter 6, soon after Jesus feeds 5,000 plus people with a few loaves and fishes, the crowd demands more. No gratitude, just demandingness. First, they demand Jesus use his power to set up his earthly kingdom for their benefit. The Apostle John records…

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:14-15)

When Jesus evades the demands of the crowd, they pursue him. Again, not to thank him, or to worship him, or to follow him, but to demand more. In their words…

“What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:30-31)

It seems that when we encounter an example of the limitless power of God, humans may respond in one of two ways: 1) A humble desire to gratefully serve God, or 2) A demanding desire for God to serve us.

This second option is all too common throughout religious history. Our imaginations can be carried away by our agendas and we find our hope in the hijacking of God’s power for our earthly kingdoms, whether those are religious, political, personal, cultural, or financial kingdoms. This is why the power of Jesus must never be untethered from the teaching and example of Jesus, for as Jesus says,

The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)

So Jesus responds to the crowd’s demandingness with powerful teaching about the greatest miracle of all – himself. First Jesus corrects their assertion, then he brings it all back to himself…

Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. … I am the bread of life. (John 6:32-35)

In other words, to recap…

  • First, Jesus fed 5,000 people in one afternoon with some cheap barley loaves.
  • Second, the crowd reacts by demanding that Jesus do better, since Moses fed all Israel with heavenly bread for forty years.
  • Third, Jesus corrects the crowd, pointing out that i) it was Jesus’ own Father, not Moses, who fed Israel with the manna, and ii) now this same God is feeding the whole world with the true bread from heaven, and iii) this will sustain them, not for forty years, but forever. Manna bread has now become Man bread in Jesus.

I read one theologian who calls the demandingness of the crowd in this passage the ancient heresy of Moreism – that is, our desire for more of what Jesus can do for us, rather than resting in Jesus himself as being enough for us.  But according to Jesus, he is God’s greatest miracle of provision. Jesus is enough.

Jesus will go on to teach his disciples that their true source of sustenance will always be Jesus…

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. (John 6:54-56)

Jesus himself is our food and drink. Our appetites can be satisfied in Christ, because through Jesus we can begin to experience the full intimacy our hearts crave (“remains in me, and I in them“). Many of us reading this consider ourselves Christ-followers, but if you find yourself habitually coming to Jesus because of what he can do for you, then you may be a Moreist. To help deconvert you from your Moreism, Jesus will help you change your appetites in the first place.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

“Righteousness” simply means right-relatedness, being in right relationship with God and others. This is what we truly want, if we can rest in Jesus as enough. So Jesus counters the heresy of Moreism with the orthodoxy of Enoughism – as he said to the Apostle Paul…

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This is a good opportunity for all of us to pause and ponder – Am I drawing close to Jesus because I subconsciously believe he supports my cause and can empower my plans? Am I a Moreist?

“Just give us a sign!” the people cry out, in the first century and the twenty-first century. And in so doing, we miss the greatest sign of all: the person and teaching of Jesus.

For many years I was an evidential Moreist. I kept telling myself that I just needed more evidence, then I could follow Jesus wholeheartedly.  I just needed a sign from God. Maybe you’ve been in the same place. If so, let’s close by trying A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT…

Suppose Jesus responded to your request for more evidence and tonight as you lay your head on your pillow the room filled with white light and you sat up to see a ten foot tall glowing Jesus standing at the foot of your bed. Giant Jesus says, “I have heard your request for more evidence, so here you go. It’s me. Resurrected Big Boy Jesus, making an appearance just for you. Are you ready to follow me now?” To which you say a resounding “yes!” So Jesus continues…

“Good! Now here’s the first few things we’ll work on in your life. You know that person who hurt you so terribly you never want anyone to bring them up to you in conversation ever again? I’m going to help you forgive them. And you know that person whom you’ve hurt, but you don’t think it is a very big deal? Well, it is to them, and I’m going to help you go to them and repent. And you know those thoughts you’ve had of divorcing your spouse that you nurture to help you feel hope? I’m going to help you reconcile and recommit and find hope for something even better. And you know that anger you’ve been holding onto because it makes you feel morally superior in your judgement over everything that’s wrong with the world? I’m going to help you give that up and replace it with love as your moral compass and your motivating power. And not only will I help you to love your friends, family, neighbours, and strangers, but I will also help you love your enemies. I will help you to actually do good deeds for those people who hate you, and to say good words to and about those people who slander you, and to pray for those people who mistreat you. And you know that job promotion you have just been offered? I think you should turn it down, since it will demand more time and you are already not engaged enough with your family. And you know that new car/home/clothing/vacation/phone you were looking forward to getting? Don’t. Live beneath your means so you can give more away. And while we’re on the topic of finances, you know why you never have enough? Because you live like you belong in this culture, rather than as an ambassador to this materialistic culture on behalf of another kingdom, where simplicity and generosity are the norm. And you know why you feel like you never have enough time to do the things you know you should do? Because you spend too much time doing the things I never asked you to do. You’re missing the abundant life because you’ve exchanged quality for quantity and you are sinking beneath the weight of it. I’m going to help sensitize your conscience so that your lifestyle priorities change. I like to call it picking up your cross and dying to self. Now, let’s get you baptized and then we’ll be on our way. Ready to go???”

If Jesus performed a miracle right in front of you and then called you to follow him, I mean really follow him, would you? Maybe. Or maybe you would walk away sad, like the rich young ruler, unwilling to give up all to follow Jesus. My point is, you probably don’t need more evidence, or more direction, or more blessing, or more miracles. You already have enough. Jesus is enough.

Peace,

 

 

3 Comments

  1. My husband is an alcoholic but won’t admit to it. He doesn’t communicate with me or show affection unless he wants something. He’s very angry and blames me. I have been fighting for my marriage for years and feel like giving up. How can Jesus be enough when I’m so sad and lonely?

    1. Hi Cynthia. Thank you for posting. I’m sorry for your loss – loss of the life our souls were made to live, in the garden, in peace, in love. This is so hard.

      Thankfully, history has shown that whenever a community of people keep Jesus in the centre, they organize themselves to support one another as family. They provide for each other’s material needs, and also for their relational and emotional needs. Are you part of a Jesus-centred church community who can help, both in supporting you and in challenging your husband (especially if he claims to be a Christian)? One of the primary ways Jesus helps us is through his body, the body of Christ.

      Jesus shows us how love can be gracious, but also strong. The way of love may start by removing the plank in our own eye, but it continues on to help another remove the splinter from their eye. Love never pretends everything is okay. Love says “I am committed to you, and to helping you become the best version of yourself that you can be.” Love works hard for change, in ourselves and in others. And we all know, people don’t tend to change what we merely ask them to change; they change what we hold them accountable to change.

      You shouldn’t have to work through this alone. Reaching out in this forum is part of you expressing that reality – you need others to join with you in carrying the burden of figuring out what to do next (Galatians 6:2). So, I’m happy to talk more about how Jesus and his strong, powerful love ethic can help you in your situation. If you like, write me at bruxy@bruxy.com.

    2. My Dear Sister Cynthia,

      While reading your comments, I had thousands of flashbacks booming in my brain from my past where I struggled with my alcoholic dad; him cheating on my mom (whom I address to as “an angel without wings”) with pretty much every single woman in his life; him bringing home millions of debts from all kinds of different banks due to wasting all his income in night clubs with people who were as lost as he was; bank officials coming to my house with their writ of attachments and capturing all the electro-domestic products and leaving my mom having to go to our neighbors’ house to do the laundry (God bless them, they have never complained once about it); him stealing even my brother’s university scholarship secretly so that he could satisfy his (just like all of us, I guess) selfish nature; and exactly like what you said, him being very angry with everyone around him who would point out his mistakes… There are many more things I can write but I think it’s not going to help anyone in any way.

      It was exactly at that point in my life, when I, my mom and my brother were going through such pain, I met my Missionary brothers and sisters who had helped me greatly by pulling me into their unity and giving me a chance to see ‘God in action’ through their sample of love, giving a listening ear to someone who just needed to pour out his heart without being given any kind of advice. They eventually did give me an advice which was to simply follow the example of Jesus and that He’ll teach me how to forgive and love regardless, along the way.

      10 years have gone by since then. In these 10 years, my parents got divorced, my dad got married again (I and my grandparents were the only ones who went to his wedding which turned out to be my opportunity to explain my dad how I was able to forgive him while he was crying and apologizing), I finished my BA and am about finish my Masters degree in another country (merely a miracle of Jesus, I literally hate studying)… All that to say, many things have changed but Jesus never changed! I know this sounds very dull and meaningless but He really never changed!

      I still remember the day crystal clearly when I met my friends who have helped me a lot but more importantly, the day when I opened up my heart to Jesus and asked Him to come in and make His abiding with me. Since then, He has never left me nor forsaken me.

      Did I forget what my dad has done? No. Could my mom and my brother forgive him? No. They actually got even more bitter and I probably would be in the same boat as they are if I were to follow my instincts and thoughts rather than listening to the voice of Jesus. However, my dear sister, IT IS POSSIBLE to change the circumstances and situations that hurt us and make us feel lonely with the help of our spiritual family – the body of believers, with the power of forgiving which doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting at all and with inviting Jesus into our lives.

      I’m not an active member of the Meeting House, so please don’t think that I’m promoting the Meeting House. I listen to Bruxy’s weekly teaching sermons on the internet and love his approach to the issues related to the faith and life.

      I hope I did not sound cocky in my explanation of my personal experience and I sincerely hope and pray that you can find a spiritual family where you will be blessed with many brothers and sisters who can help you find a way out of the difficult circumstances you are under.

      I will be praying for you (I mean, really, I will be praying for you)

      Lots of love from Spain,

      Murat

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