"Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”
John 6:26

Today’s Gospel reading follows the feeding of the 5000 which took place the previous day. The crowd was amazed by this marvelous sign and many followed him to Capernaum.

Jesus does not respond to their question "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Instead he questions their motive for following him and says to them "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” This encounter raises the question of motive as it relates to our relationship with God. From today’s Gospel two questions can be asked: “Why do we worship God?” and “Why do we come to church?”

Contrary to popular belief we do not worship God and we do not come to church for personal gain. We worship God because we were made to worship him and glorify Him. We worship God because it is our duty to worship God and love Him. Unfortunately, many people still follow Jesus for what they hope to get from him. If our primary purpose for worship and church attendance is driven by what we hope to get we are engaging in a form of bribery and blackmail.

Why do we follow Jesus Christ? We follow Christ so as to become his disciples and his agents of reconciliation in the world. We worship God to be empowered by Him for his work of renewal and transformation as we seek to extend God’s kingdom on earth. Christian worship is NEVER for personal gain, it is always sacrificial and self denying. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). There is a difference between following Christ and discipleship.

It is wrong to worship God or come to church for what we can get out of it. It is wrong to engage in worship so that our needs can be met. It is wrong to serve God just for the sake of avoiding hell. It is wrong to serve God because we want our sins forgiven. Such reasons are selfish desires devoid of love; love must be the only basis for our worship of God. We worship God because we love him and not for what we can get from him.

If our reason for worshipping God is motivated by what we hope to get out of it we reduce worship to a consumer commodity. We become consumer Christians who are swayed by the advertising promotional concept “buy one and get one free.” Sometimes it appears that we are more ‘consumer’ Christians than ‘contributing’ Christians. We worship for gain and not for what we are able to contribute to the life of the church and its mission.

The Gospel of prosperity which is being preached by many especially the newer churches that are mushrooming all over the place compromises the true meaning of worship. This teaching says that if you worship God all will be well, you will prosper in all that you do, you will be successful; you will be able to buy the biggest house and drive the most expensive car. Persons who subscribe to this thinking worship God for what they hope to get and not out of love. The prosperity Gospel is a cheap form of Christianity, it is fraudulent, it is dishonest, it is deceptive and it does not serve the interest of God. It serves the material interest of those who teach, preach and encourage it. But it attracts people and is popular because we serve the god of greed and fail like the secular world to understand that man does not live by bread alone. This form of Christianity attracts and preys on gullible people who are led to believe that riches are signs of God’s blessings. It uses the fear concept by teaching that if you are not prosperous you are not a child of God. And so the person who is made to feel guilty is taken for a ride by unscrupulous people who see religion as a means to an end.

The Gospel of prosperity which is being preached and for which many are falling is dangerous. It brings people into the church for the wrong reason and will eventually lead to disappointment and frustration when people realise that Christianity is more about service and self denial rater than material success and prosperity. In stead of making people Disciples of Christ it runs the risks of making them enemies of the cross of Christ.

Our motive for worship cannot be just for the bread that meets our physical needs; the bread that perishes. Worship that is only for bread it is based on a lie and will serve no useful purpose. We worship God to be fed with the true bread that allows us to establish a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. The bread that gives meaning to our lives, the bread that gives us peace, the bread that makes us Christ’s disciples, the bread that empowers us to be Christ’s agents of reconciliation in the world, the bread that moves us to be agents of justice and righteousness, the bread that makes it possible for us to be Christ’s lights in a world of darkness. Christ is that bread. In response to the request, "Lord, give us this bread always." Jesus said "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”

Why do we worship God? Why do we come to worship? Not for what we can get. Not because we like or do not like the priest. I would like to think that the answer is found in Hymn 107:

My God, I love Thee; not because
I hope for Heav’n thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
May eternally die.
So would I love Thee, dearest Lord,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.

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