Between the Lines: Pentecost 10: August 5, 2012

Text: John 6:24-35

Feeding the 5000

Feeding the 5000
(Photo credit: twenty_questions)

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.”

In her book, Revelations (Viking 2012), Elaine Pagels writes: “Lest anyone object that God judges not on the basis of what people believe but on the basis of what they do – whether they feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, and care for the sick and prisoners, as Jesus says (Matthew 25:31ff) – Irenaeus insists that moral action and right belief are inseparable. He argues that only those who accept true doctrine actually do act morally; and from this he concludes that God’s judgment will divide believers from non-believers.”

Thus the church father in the late second century offered an answer of what we must do – apparently agreeing with John that the heart of discipleship is about believing. As you listen to sermons, engage in worship, and look around your congregation how do you see this question being answered? Is performing the works of God mostly about the Sermon on the Mount or the Council of Nicea? And for you? Is it about believing or doing? And can you separate the two?

– Bill Dols

“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. BibleWorkbench includes a series of open-ended questions focused on a reading in the Common Lectionary aimed at drawing readers into the story and making connections with the world around them and the world within. Also included are “Between the Lines” reflections, Parallel Readings from literature, poetry, and the news, and Critical Background on the text and its setting. For details and subscription information, go to

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