A couple of days ago, I had a dream that brought to mind the story of The Little Red Hen.
Here’s the story. The Little Red Hen finds a wheat seed and sees that by planting it, she can have bread. She asks for help from her neighbors, the lazy and disinterested pig, cat and rat. This is fruitless, and she ends up planting the seed, harvesting the wheat, grinding the flour and baking the bread herself.
Say you encounter Jesus and begin planting seeds. You’ll soon find that not very many people are interested in planting seeds or doing anything else to to get the life, the bread, that Jesus offers.
On the other hand, there are plenty of folks who are just fine with going to church on Sunday and asking for prayer. There is not anything inherently wrong with this. But when a person lives their life la, la, la all the time without seeking the Lord, and wants their problems “fixed” by a prayer on Sunday, they are being lazy.
Jesus gives us His bread by grace. However, my experiences indicate that the bread is much more filling when we are respectful to its maker. When we seek to help him in the kitchen, so to speak.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his thought-provoking book The Cost of Discipleship, calls this sort of thing “cheap grace.”
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
To enjoy the bread that God has set before us, I believe we need to fully participate in bringing the Kingdom of God to our world. Here are a few examples:
We can ask God to heal us from our sickness and then proceed to sit at home and focus on our problem while waiting for God to deliver us. Or…we can sing praises to God for everything wonderful in our life and do something to show the love of Christ to someone else who is suffering.
We can ask God for help paying our bills, or we can focus on being God’s hands and feet for those who have less than us.
We can beg God to take us out of our circumstances, or we can repent to God for the choices we made that led to those circumstances.
My experience has been that God really moves when we focus on His kingdom more than ourselves. When we participate in the baking of the bread, then we will likely reap the most benefit from eating it.