Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Have you ever had a “friend” or colleague who only wanted your companionship or friendship for as long as you had something to give them like money etc – but as soon as you no longer have the very thing that they want from you, then you hardly hear from them. Some people behave the same way towards God. They seek God for what He can do for them and not for who He is. These people don’t really want God – but they want what God can give them. These people don’t really seek to have a genuine & obedient relationship with God – but they seek a way to get God to “unlock” the “keys” to material wealth. They are really seeking the gift but not the Giver of the gift.
Just like the 5000 followers, it is possible today, that people follow a church or appear to follow Jesus not because they seek to become like Jesus and to serve God – but because, for example, they want various temporary material and monetary possessions that they believe God will give them. Like the 5000 who followed Jesus for food, there some who follow God for presumed money and wealth.
Just like the 5000 followers, the motive of some people is not to learn from God but their primary motivation is to feed their fleshly desires. To them Jesus is a means by which they can attempt to achieve their carnal desires.
In our own life, our motives for being followers of Christ must be CORRECT and GENUINE. We must not be like some of the 5000 who followed Jesus because they were only interested in satisfying their fleshly and temporary desires. God knows our minds and hearts and He is able to clearly see and read the motives or the reasons for why we do the things that we do. (John 2:23-25 – Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.)
Below are some of the WRONG reasons why people follow Jesus or go to church
WRONG REASONS FOR FOLLOWING A CHURCH OR FOLLOWING JESUS
(1) (Luke 12:15 – And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”)
Some people view God as being a type of Santa Claus / Father Christmas. To certain people, the primary motive for following God is because they believe that He will give them what their flesh and carnal minds desire. The motivation to acquire riches and possessions blinds them from genuinely following God for the right reasons because they have been deceived into believing that God MUST grant them whatever they desire. However Jesus teaches that life is more than about what possessions we have or the amount of money we have and that if we seek after material things only then we are short-sighted and do not understand God’s eternal plan. Jesus also taught that our primary focus should be to seek God’s kingdom & righteousness FIRST. (John 6:27 – Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal). It is also important to realize that while God is Jehovah our Provider, it is God’s prerogative to either give us or to withhold giving us the material desires that we want. Therefore God is not obligated to give us what we want because He is not Santa Clause / Father Christmas. He is God.
(2) SEEKING AN EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE – (John 4:23-24 – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.)
Some people go to church or follow Jesus because they are seeking an emotional experience. They seek an emotional “high” or they seek to be entertained. They judge their spiritual condition by their emotional feelings. Some people believe that if they have an emotional experience at church then it means that God has visited them or that they are growing spiritually. However, is following Jesus really about seeking an emotional experience? And is having an emotional experience no matter how temporary that emotional “high” might be – can such experiences be equivalent to true spiritual growth in a person’s life?
(Matthew 13:20-21 – As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with JOY, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away).
When Jesus spoke about the Parable of the Sower, he spoke of a type of people who hear God’s word and receive God’s word with JOY and with a lot of excitement and energy. However, the fact that they were joyful or excited at receiving God’s word was not enough to sustain their spiritual growth because the problem is that they were not firmly rooted in God’s word through meditation and OBEDIENCE to God’s word. An emotional experience or feelings do not automatically guarantee that one will obey God’s word. Therefore when trials, tests and challenges come, they backslide or become defeated.
The problem with going to church or seeking God because you want an emotional experience is that you will find yourself going through a cycle of unpredictability and inconsistency in regards to obedience to God’s word. Therefore your relationship with the Lord is based on feelings.
(3) FOR POSITION, POWER & RECOGNITION – (Mark 10:43-45 – But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many).
I have often seen, experienced and heard about situations where people may appear to be interested in following God and in doing the work of God, but yet their ulterior motive is to gain various positions of power and influence within the church so that they may fulfill their own personal agenda and not God’s work. The Pharisees sought the adoration and admiration of men. The Pharisees sought power and influence, and therefore when they discovered that the power and influence that they once had over the people was now shifting to Jesus, the Pharisees connived to kill Jesus (read Matthew 23-26:1-3)
Jesus Himself did not come be served, but He came to serve and fulfill the plan of the Father.
Therefore when we go to church or when we decide to follow Jesus, we must be prepared to give ALL the glory to God. We cannot claim to follow God but yet seek our own glory in the process because God does not share His glory with anybody. (Isaiah 42:8 – I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols).
Even if you do not have a position or recognition in church, you are still a vessel of God whose function is to glorify God all the time (Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.)
Our duty as Christians is not to seek self-glory or the admiration of others, but whatever we do must give glory and praise to God whom we serve and live for.
(4) FOR BUSINESS, MONEY & PROFIT – (Matthew 21:12-13 – And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.)
For some people, going to church is an opportunity to make business contacts; make money and to make a profitable business out of the church setting & environment. For some people, church has become a business market – and for these people, they may appear to follow Jesus – but they are actually following and serving mammon (money).
When Jesus entered the temple, He realized that people had lost the true meaning & purpose of the existence of the temple. The temple had not been built so that people could run their businesses and make money. The temple had not been built so that it could be a marketplace for people to sell and buy. The temple was supposed to be “a house of prayer”. The temple was supposed to be a place for man to communicate with God. The temple was supposed to be for the service and glorification of God and not for the advancement of people’s monetary or material wealth. (Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.)
(5) FOR SIGNS & WONDERS – (Matthew 12:38-39 – Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah)
If God does not perform a miracle or a healing in one’s life – it does not mean that He is not God. God is still God even if He does not heal. God is still God even if He does not perform any physical sign or wonder. God is still God even if He does not give us the things that we want and desire in life.
There is no doubt that Jesus performed miracles that nobody had ever witnessed. After all, Jesus is God and through Him all things were created. Jesus would heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind and even bring back to life those who were dead. However, not even miracles could sway the hearts of many including the Pharisees to believe and genuinely follow Jesus. The Pharisees, the Sadducees and many other people who would follow Jesus would witness the miracles He did but in the end some of them would still not genuinely seek Christ’s salvation or devote themselves to become His disciples. This example of the hardening of the heart by the Pharisees even after seeing miracles by Jesus clearly shows that signs and wonders alone do not guarantee one’s salvation nor can they be a primary reason for following a church.
(Matthew 24:24 – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect). In Matthew 24:24 Jesus warns that false christs & false prophets will perform false miracles or signs & wonders in order to deceive people and lure people to follow after them.
Therefore if people go to church or attempt to seek Jesus because they seek miracles only, they must be careful that they don’t fall into the trap of false prophets and false christs because according to Jesus, it is by false signs & wonders that many people would be led astray.
God is not a magician. He is not an entertainer. God can choose to perform miracles or not to. Jesus did not perform a sign when the scribes & Pharisees asked Him to. Jesus did not have to prove Himself to them even though they sought Jesus for a sign.
God wants us to seek Him genuinely. He wants us to worship Him truthfully. Below are GOOD Reasons or GOOD Motives of Why We Should Follow Jesus.