As I sat last night reflecting on yesterday’s Gospel – St. Mark’s account of the feeding of the multitudes, I recalled a passage I recently read from a Shane Claiborne book. The passage makes an important point about how God chooses to work in the world. Shane writes:
Jesus took what the people had and added a little God stuff to it. He teaches the disciples to offer what little they have and promises that when we do that, there will be enough. it is not the same miracle as when God rained down bread from heaven, though it is reminiscent of that. This time the miracle is that God can take frail, meager offerings from our hands and do the work of the Kingdom. What a crazy idea – the God that can feed the masses on His own resists the temptation to turn stones into bread or rain down manna from heaven and chooses to use us, to need us, to want us! Jesus chose to do the miraculous work with a group of followers, albeti a ragtag bunch that over and over were arguing, flailing, denying, betraying and embarassing Him. But that seems to be the nature of the kingdom of God. It is the story of community. We have a God who doesn’t want to change the world without us.
It would, of course, be so much easier if God just did it all for us. God would probably do it a lot more efficiently, a lot more elegantly…a lot more a lot of things. But, instead, God chooses to enlist.
That doesn’t mean putting everything into our meager hands. I love the imagery of God taking our little offerings and adding a little “God stuff” to it. Alone, what we can achieve is, indeed, pretty meager. But with God, we can accomplish tremendous things – even feeding the entirety of a starving world.