August 31, 2015

Matthew 7.7-7.11

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

Or what one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?

If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in the Spiritual Realm give good things to those who ask him?

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There is a great deal to be said about this; but this time I want to revert to the way we used to handle passages on this (kwakerskripturestudy.blogspot.com ) site: Somebody posts the passage; then people respond with comments.

What is so problematic about this utterly simple and cogent passage? -- Why do the seemingly obvious conclusions people are likely to draw go off track and make most of us wrongly dismiss what Jesus is saying here?

And how, in practice, should we understand this?

3 Comments:

At 10:00 AM, Blogger bradleycarson said...

I find the times that I've requested things in my prayers that it's the beginning of a journey of self reflection. Why do I want this outcome? What in my life do I need to change to get what I want? Do I really want it? It is a practice of checking my motives. Before I met my Fiancé I was lonely and self pitying a lot. Then I went through a period where I contemplated what type of relationship I wanted to be in and mapped out what I myself I wanted to contribute and where I feel short from that ideal. My prayers at this time were to have the strength and guidance to accomplish goal to meet my vision of that ideal. When I met her I respected her and was grateful for what we could contribute together for the relationship I wanted and found out what she wanted by communication.

The scripture also alludes to that sometimes we think we know what's best for others. I think that there is a spirit in us that does know but we have to seek its will in our lives with practical actions and self review.

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger forrest said...

Thanks for jumping in!

Some reflection on what we're wanting, why -- and what's been in the way -- I feel that's part of the reason this piece encourages 'asking for', not just 'expecting' what we lack. Whether 'mapping out' exactly what sort of a relationship we want is a good idea...? I'd say not, that letting it be a surprize -- and remain continually surprizing -- is part of what makes for a relationship, rather than just a contract. The first few years I'd known Anne, I'd been thinking the age difference more important than it's turned out -- so the main thing I kept noticing was: "Wow! I really like that woman!" Meanwhile I was after all these women who wouldn't have fit so well, probably wouldn't have come along to sleep on the concrete by City Hall, back in our homeless advocacy days... or fallen in love with the P'nai Or [Jewish Renewal] Synagogue when we were at Pendle Hill. We still sometimes do our 'communication' by yelling at each other; but bottom line is, I ain't leaving this person!

The bad side of putting this in terms of 'asking' is that it's natural to think, "I must not have been asking right!" -- and therefore to wonder about mechanics: "How can I make this work?

That's like asking yourself, "How can I get Daddy to give me everything I want!" Of course, getting everything you want isn't so good for you as getting someone you love! [And 'someone I love' may not be available right away, because first a person needs to become 'someone who can love,' which involves time and awful learning experiences first!

What makes a child happy, of course, is not getting all available toys, but loving and being loved. The disappointment of Christmas morning, for me, was not that Santa didn't come through -- but that now there were all these toys I had to play with or feel guilty; and there was still this lasting estrangement between my parents and me.

Much the same applies to our relationship with God. Jesus here is saying part of what a good relationship to God looks like: that we feel free to ask, confident we'll receive anything in God's power to give.

Why, then, do we typically think first about personal favors we'd like? This is the same guy who's said, 'Ask for God's Reign to be established; and everything else will be included.' He's been talking, so far, about what it means to belong to the true Israel, living under that reign. Maybe the healing of the world is impossibly large for us to imagine? -- or is it still too hard to feel much hope of that?

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger forrest said...

Oh! Another friend has also responded, but he's over on Quakerquaker.org .

 

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