Bread is something most of us eat on a regular basis. In Catawba County, even a minor threat for winter weather sends everyone rushing to the store for bread. Did you know that bread is also an important image used in the Bible, over and over again? With just a quick search in my concordance, I found it listed 91 times!
Jesus talked about bread many times, even including it in the sacred act of communion as a way to remember His redemptive work on the cross. In John 6, Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Highways and Hedges was recently blessed to partner with Panera to take leftover bread and share it with the needy in our area. Several times each week, Panera gives us the leftover baked goods to pass along to those who would otherwise be hungry.
Sometimes people question why we give out groceries after our Monday night worship services. We’ve heard some well-meaning concerns: Aren’t they already on food stamps? What if they are “double dipping” by going from one church to the next seeking free food?
The Bible gives us some clear directives on this. In Ecclesiastes 11:1, it says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” If you were to take a loaf of bread and tear it in pieces and throw it out on the water, what would happen? It would fall apart, be completely wasted, and utterly useless. So why would King Solomon tell people to cast their bread on the waters?
Sometimes giving to the poor feels a lot like casting bread on the water. You make a lot of effort, invest a lot of money, and it can seem like a waste. Does a free meal or a bag of groceries really accomplish anything in the big picture?
The answer is yes. Bread is a fundamental part of life and it gives us an open door to talk about the true Bread that always satisfies! Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” When we share physical bread with people in need, we also have an opportunity to share the the Word of God, the eternally significant message of Jesus Christ!
Tonight, we have another trunk load of bread that we will deliver to one of the most stigmatized groups in our society. We will spend time with people who would never dare darken the doors of the church. We aren’t asking them to come to us. We are taking the bread to them! And with it, we are also taking them Bibles, a friendly shoulder to cry on, and the knowledge that Jesus cares deeply about their lives.
In a world where we have so many conflicting beliefs on politics, faith, lifestyle, and even parenting, it’s hard to find anything that we all have in common. But there is this one simple thing – bread. We all need to eat.
We want to issue a challenge to you today. This week, would you go pick up a loaf of bread from the grocery store and share it with someone else?
Maybe it’s a neighbor, a coworker, a friend who is struggling, or a homeless man with a cardboard sign. Take this simple loaf of bread and turn it into an opportunity to be a true friend, to tell someone that they are important to Jesus and He has a plan for their life. You might just be surprised at what could happen…