Friday, February 13, 2009


Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
-Matthew 7:7
This is one of those passages that always makes me scratch my head. I look at it, and it just doesn't seem to be true. Christians ask and don't receive all the time. What does it mean?

Searching my mental concordance I get a suggestion from James: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3) But applying this to Jesus' saying strikes me as overly pious. It doesn't feel right. It might be right, but it doesn't feel right. It's not right in the way that it first strikes me to apply it, in the pious way.

I was ruminating on this passage, looking for a better way in. What does it mean? And then I thought occurs to me. Go back and read what I said above, "I look at it." I'm looking at the text. I'm analyzing it. I'm evaluating it. I'm asking, "Is this true? What does it mean?" But these are the wrong questions. This is the wrong approach. I'm sitting in judgment over the text, instead of letting it speak to me.

So I step back, and I listen. "Ask, and it will be given to you." What should I ask? Ah, now there's a better start. "Seek, and you will find." What should I seek? "Seek first the kingdom of God." "Knock, and it will be opened to you." And here I realized that someone else was knocking. "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me."

I see that I can't just pull these verses out of the Sermon on the Mount and apply them willy nilly as if they were the words of a genie granting wishes. They have to fit into the Sermon on the Mount. They have to be a part of what Jesus is telling me (telling us) about the Kingdom of God.

And so what I take away today is not answers but questions, questions that I should constantly be asking. "What should I ask? What should I seek? Where should I knock?" If I ask these questions, I think, I'll be on the right track.

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