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« Therapeutic Nonsense | Main | Assumptions of Forgiveness »

Ambulance Chasers

ford_e350_ambulance2.jpeg “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” John 6:26

Rescue and emergency workers, along with fighting fires, administering CPR, cutting people from mangled wrecks and all the other myriad tasks they perform, battle the nuisance people. Popularly called ambulance chasers, gawkers or rubber-neckers, these people snarl traffic and generally hamper the crews from doing their job. They have no official business at the site, and they don’t particularly want to help. Mainly, they just want to see something gruesome or bizarre to titillate their imagination so they can command the attention of their neighbors and friends as someone “in the know”. Their interest in the misfortunes of others centers on their own personal needs and drives. For similar reasons, people chase movie stars, sports personalities, politicians and other celebrities around the country to obtain photographs and autographs. They seek to elevate their own importance by getting close to important people. With no true success of their own, they feed off of the legitimate successes of others.

Seekers thronged Jesus for a host of reasons. Some wanted to satisfy their curiosity. Some went wherever the crowd went. Some wanted a break from work. Some saw a good chance to eat. Some thought Jesus was a rebel. Some looked at him as an alternative to the oppressive Roman regime. Some thought he would lead Israel back to its former glory. Others, however, possessed a revelation about his true identity. Jesus understood the difference.

The same situation prevails in church circles today. Many estranged husbands and wives fall apart at an altar of prayer, not because they seek genuine repentance, but so God might put their homes back together. In church services, many addicts anguish over their compulsions, not so they can walk away from the drugs or alcohol, but so they can find relief from the financial, social and physical troubles their indulgences have caused. Even more complicated than these situations, others follow through with religious teaching and requirements, embrace sound doctrine and re-structure their lives for a time, but their motives remain mired in selfish interests. Whenever they get bored, experience difficulties, get hurt, or fail to make a clean break with carnal relationships, they wander off in search of something else.

Self-Centered Believers. Some always seek their own advantage. They manipulate every situation in a way that they come out on top. The Apostle John told of such ones in the early church. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.” 3 John 9-10. (NIV)

Self Esteem Seekers. The need for self-importance or to find affirmation dominates the discipleship of many. Though they often appear spiritual, close examination of their behavioral patterns discloses that they always place themselves at the top of their priority list. Their service to God rises or falls on the positive attention they get from others. They never grasp the concept of crucifying the flesh. Yet, the bible teaches the very opposite. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Material Gain Followers. Many people still come to the church with their hands out. They see dollar signs, sympathy-givers, baby-sitters, car repairmen, grocery-providers, bill-payers and handful of freebies. Whereas the faithful believers look around and see the blessings of God in bricked buildings, paved parking lots and carpeted floors, those whose eyes focus on material gain see opportunity for personal wealth. Jesus directly referred to such people in the text. They followed him only as long as he provided natural food for them.

Complete divestiture of selfish motives remains the purest way to follow Jesus. Consider every blessing, every physical healing, every instance of personal gain, every miracle, and every instance of a supplied need, as a by-product to your relationship with him. He doesn’t just give prizes—-he IS the prize! We don’t serve him because he is our meal ticket, but because he is our life. The multitude wanted the loaves, but they spurned the hand that produced the loaves. When you lose yourself in Jesus, you gain far more than self-aggrandizement, dubious rewards of self-esteem and the temporary gifts of material gain. You get God, himself.

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