Links Daily Devotional

To Work or To Believe?, Part 1: Work

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29, NIV)

It is Q-School season. To those unfamiliar with the term, Q-School is a series of grueling qualifying tournaments (final stages are often five or six competitive rounds) for the major professional tours around the world (PGA and LPGA included). Thousands of players each year pay hefty entry fees and travel expenses in hope of earning one of the few coveted “spots” or “cards” available. Golfers prepare their golf games diligently to get ready for this demanding test. If you pass the test and qualify, you get to have playing status for the next full year on tour.

There, another test remains: playing with the best in the world. You will have to play well enough to keep your privileges or face Q-School again. If you fail, you lose your card, your status, your “identity.” It is the ultimate performance-based system. You know what the requirements are, what the reward is and what the punishment is.

Working and earning seem ingrained in our human nature. We like to know what the standard is, and what we are up against, so we can work toward it. In John 6:28, the people wanted to know what work mattered in relation to God. Essentially, they were asking Jesus: “How can we ‘qualify’ with God? How can we get on God’s good side and get our ‘card?’”

Jesus replied simply, yet profoundly: “Believe in the God he has sent.”

This was not the desired or expected answer. It was somewhat vague; they could argue, “Well, that’s not really work.” They wanted the bullet points for following God. But that’s not what they got. Instead, they got the Good News! Christianity is not about doing. It is about what Jesus has already done.

In answering the people, Jesus kept redirecting the questioning to himself! He was constantly trying to tell them that he was the answer. Why is that? Why did he singlehandedly put to death the idea of a performance-based system?

I think we can infer that he had to relentlessly remind them who he was and what he would do for them because they were literally obsessed with working and earning. To their defense, in the early first century, the Mosaic Law was the common system for earning favor among men and God. It was the quintessential “Q-School.” Except, this Law and its requirements were so strenuous and never-ending that no one could ever succeed. Jesus spoke of a new and better way when he told the people gathered: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus spoke about food that endures to eternal life and of the Son of Man and his relationship with the Father. Amazing statements. Major claims and Good News. And what do the people ask Jesus next? “What must we do to do the works God requires?” They asked Jesus about work! I think this reveals a little bit about the conditioning of their hearts, and a little bit about ours too.

I am so glad Jesus reminds us through Scripture what he has done, so that we might qualify to have a relationship with God! And this provision is not just for tomorrow or next year, but for eternity. “Believe in the one he has sent.”

Isabelle Beisiegel

November 14, 2012

Copyright 2012 Links Players International

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