By Joe Chesser
Our vision is so limited at times that when Jesus challenges us to think outside of the box, what most of us see are only the difficulties and impossibilities. But Jesus wants us to do better than that. He wants us to see things as he sees them. He wants us to walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7). He wants us to open our eyes to see the fields that are white for harvest (John 4.35). He wants our minds to be transformed so that we can discern what God’s will is in contrast to how the world thinks (Romans 12.2).
There was a time when Jesus was teaching 1000s of people in a deserted place. As evening came, the disciples went to Jesus because they could see a problem. They knew the crowd was hungry, so they proposed sending them into the nearby villages to buy their dinner (Matthew 14.15). Instead, Jesus challenged them, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14.16). Thinking like the world instead of like Jesus, the apostles thought, “That’s not going to happen. That’s impossible.” Philip thought it would take more than 200 day’s wages to buy enough bread for the crowd just to have a little (Mark 6.37; John 6.7). Andrew found a boy with 5 loaves and two fish, but as he said, “but what are they for so many?” (John 6.9). From their logic, there was no conceivable way to give them food to eat.
But Jesus wanted them to look beyond the impossibilities of their own abilities and their own limited resources to see what they could do with the help of Jesus. John tells us that when Jesus told them to give the people something to eat, it was a test, for he knew what he would do (John 6.6). In the end, the disciples did give the people something to eat as they distributed what Jesus had supplied (Mark 6.41).
Jesus is challenging us to think outside the box to see things as God sees them. He’s calling us as His church to have our minds transformed away from conformity to the world. He’s telling us to lift up our eyes to see the plentiful harvest, to take the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28.19-20). He wants us to financially support those who are preaching the good news all over the world (Romans 10.14-15). He teaches us to take care of widows and orphans (James 1.27) and contribute to the needs of the saints and show hospitality (Romans 12.13). He even expects us to learn to love our enemies, and forgive them (Matthew 5.44; Luke 23.34). Hopefully we’ll learn from the mistakes of the disciples and realize that it’s not with our own skills and resources alone that God expects us to do these things. Hopefully we’ll never again see God’s challenges as too expensive or too difficult. Hopefully we’ll learn to live by the principle that the angel Gabriel told Mary when announcing Jesus’ birth, “nothing is impossible with God!” (Like 1.37).
Jesus knows we need his help in doing the Father’s will. So, when he tests us with seemingly impossible challenges, let’s reply in our hearts and actions with faith, assurance and confidence in his power and will to supply “seed to the sower and bread for food” and to increase the harvest of our righteousness (2 Corinthians 9.10).