Radical Pursuing

I remember when I was a little girl, there was one particular incident I was with my dad somewhere and I ran up to him and asked, “daddy, I’m thirsty! Can you get me something to drink?” He offered me the free hot chocolate the place had, but I didn’t think hot chocolate wasn’t going to quench my dry throat. I batted my eyes and said, “but I want something cold to drink.” Like the strong, frugal man he is, he grabbed my little hand and walked me to a nearby store and bought whatever I wanted. Is this a story of a spoiled youngest, a little but not entirely. This is a story of a good father who took care of his precious little girl.

Similarly God, our heavenly Father, takes care of Christians, his children. But we have to humble ourselves like little children and ask this big, strong God for what he knows is best for us.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one wss he knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

On a surface level, this sounds like God just handed us a blank check. We ask for stuff and get it? We seek out things and we find them? We knock, and bam! The door opens! If this is the case, then why isn’t everyone Christians? Sounds like the Christian life is pretty good.

But God designed his disciples to be more than spoiled, brat children. We aren’t to live in a “name it and claim it,” prosperity, poor interpretation of the gospel. We were meant to dive beyond the surface level.

Instead of promising us all the riches this world covets, Jesus actually promised us pain, trials, and heartache. In John 16:33, he says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We are promised troubles, but also guaranteed that the one we serve has already conquered those troubles. In Christ, despite what’s going on around us, despite God not paying our taxes, despite not receiving physical healing, we can have peace. While our fleshly desires may not be quenched, our souls will never go thirsty if we drink from the well of God.

I believe that’s what Jesus was eluding to here. Not that God will fill our bank accounts or our homes or even our physical bodies, but rather, God will fill our spiritual needs if we persistently ask, seek, and knock. One of the commentaries on these verses I read said this: “far too often Christians do not have the marks of richly textured discipleship because they do not ask, or they ask with selfish motives.” We’re so consumed with asking for our carnal wants that we forget to ask for our spiritual needs. We are seeking to be rotund in our possession and status and earthly goods, yet are starving in our spirits. And I’m not talking about unbelievers. I’m talking about us in the church. You and me.

I heard recently how Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic, responds to people who ask to pray for her healing. She says something like, “could you pray that I be healed of my pride? My elitism. My anger. My belief that I’m better than you. Because even if I get out of this wheelchair there’s parts of me that are still dead.” (Loose quotation.) Joni has the concept Jesus is trying to get us to understand here. There is healing we need that has nothing to do with our physical bodies. There is life we should seek that is outside of our finite beings. And there are doors we need to knock on that will gain us no earthy rewards should they be opened. Jesus wants us to seek out life on a deeper level. But we have to continually ask, seek, and knock for it. God does in fact seek us out but like any relationship, it is a two way street. He alone shouldn’t be doing all the pursuing. To live the life in abundance that Jesus promised us in John 10:10, we have to constantly be on our knees asking for it.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9-11

My dad is one of the best men I know. He is an incredible father and an admirable human being. But he pales in comparison to my heavenly Father. My dad gave me a drink that satisfied me for the evening. My heavenly Father gives me water that satisfies my soul for eternity.

I think we question the goodness of God because we lack physical needs or healing. We see the brokenness in this world and get frustrated with God for not fixing it. We blame God for the consequences of our sins. Tragedy and depravity run rampant in our world and we are infuriated with God for not simply “fixing” it. We deem him as a bad father because he doesn’t erase our consequences. It’s easier to blame God than to see that we have a wicked nature and address it.

But God isn’t wicked. None is truly good but God (Mark 10:18), therefore God must give better gifts than our biological fathers. The difference is, we don’t always understand his goodness.

You see, if God were to make sin consequence free, he would not be just. If God were not just, he would not be holy. If God were not holy, we would have no reason to worship him. He would not be God. But God is merciful. He sent Jesus to pay for our sins. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us from sin and towards God. God gives us good gifts.

Now, if we pray for wealth or things, I don’t think God won’t bless us materially. I think rather, he has a better gift for us: he will teach us to be good stewards and investors of what we have. If we pray for a good relationship, God may guide you into a better relationship with him so that you might one day have successful relationships with others. God may not heal the exact disease or condition we want, but he offers us healing from our sins, healing from our brokenness, and healing from eternal destruction. God is good, but he doesn’t fit into our small idea of what “good” is. He embodies something much larger and better and eternal.

The essence of the Sermon on the Mount is to guide us into a deeper level of discipleship. But we cannot do it alone. In this passage, God is pushing us to ask, seek, and knock at his door so that we might be able to operate in this life we are called out to live. He doesn’t leave us alone to fend for ourselves. He enables and equips us in his goodness and wisdom. We must simply keep asking, seeking, and knocking.

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