"He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples." (Matthew 14:19-20a).
Lord, you want me to do what with this bread? Have you seen the size of that crowd? Look at all of those hungry faces. There are over 5,000 people, and that's too overwhelming.
I have an idea. Why not just keep the bread for myself? I can bring it home and share it with my family. Besides, there is not enough to go around anyway.
Oh, you don't like that idea.
I have another idea. What if I only gave bread to the people I recognize? You know, the people who I like and go to school with, the people who can afford to pay me back for the bread later.
You want me to feed all of the people, not just the ones I know and like?
Well, I'll make you a deal. What if I test the people with doctrine. I'll ask them easy questions, like whether they believe in the resurrection or hell or heaven. I can also ask whether they think and worship and interpret the Bible like I do. That will narrow it down.
That won't work either?
Alright, then, I won't make this whole task about the people, I'll make it about the bread. I'll tell everyone that this bread is sacred, that you gave it to us and that we'll give them a piece only if they come to church with us.
You don't have to remind me that my church doesn't allow everyone in. Yes, I know that we have "Everyone Welcome" on our sign even though we don't really mean it. How else are we supposed to keep the riff-raff out? Surely, Lord, you understand that.
Oh, you don't?
Lord, let me see if I have this straight: I have to give this bread to the entire crowd?
Let me ask you a question, Lord. Do you know how many sinners are in that crowd? Take those folks sitting over there, for instance. They look like they can really hurt me. And you see those other folks? I don't want to gossip or anything, but I saw them at the bar the other night.
How did I know they were at the bar?
Yes, I was in the bar, but only for a few minutes and I had Brother Deacon with me.
No, I didn't tell anyone about you while I was there. The music was a bit loud and all.
I think I'll just go and feed the entire crowd now, thank you very much.
Hold on a second, Lord, look at what they're doing. They're sharing the bread with one another. Why, they can't do that. They have to be ordained or commissioned or something. Goodness, me! Look at the ones over there, the ones who have those funny ideas. They are sharing, too. We certainly can't have that, now, can we?
This is getting out of hand. No more bread, Lord, no more bread. This is too much!
What was that, Lord? What did you say? "Come, be blessed by my father... For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me... Just as you did for the least of these, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:34, 35, 40).
I'm not sure what you're talking about, Lord, so maybe you should go home. It's been a long day, and you need your rest. I'll just do it my way, OK?
Yes, I know you'll come back. I know what you said, but it's the only way to control the bread. When I look at that crowd, all I can think about is how out of control this whole good news stuff can really become. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll just play it safe and do it my way.
The Rev. Joe LaGuardia is the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, 301 Honey Creek Road, Conyers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trinityconyers.org.