Monday, April 28, 2008

Questions Jesus Asked – Prayer (5)

This next set of questions is intriguing to me. It’s Matthew 7:9-10 when Jesus asks, “You parents – if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Of if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?”

A quick reminder: in Jesus’ day these were primary staples of food. So, the question really is, if your kids ask for basic necessities, would you give them something worthless (a stone) or harmful (a snake)?

Jesus gives us the obvious answer at the end of verse 10 – “Of course not!” And then He makes the connection for us. Just before this Jesus is encouraging the people to be persistent in prayer – keep asking, keep looking, keep knocking. The connection is when we ask God for things we need, He’s not going to give us worthless or harmful things. Verse 11 confirms this – “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Now, there are a number of ways, in my opinion, to abuse this teaching. We get fussy when God doesn’t show up and give us everything we think we need right away. I don’t think that’s what Jesus is teaching here (that God is just a fast food clerk waiting to fill our every order) – I believe he’s telling us to recognize that God is the One who provides everything we need, and what He provides is always good for us.

There have certainly been times when I’ve begged God for something and it has not happened. At those times I can either assume God doesn’t love me and doesn’t care, or I can remember that God takes care of me better than I take care of my own kids.

This is getting a bit long, but there’s one more thing I want to mention here. The effects of sin continue to corrupt our world and those of us living in it. It’s not hard to find many examples of really bad parents. The news loves to exploit all of the abuses they find (and these days abuse is not hard to find). But I think there’s another way to look at this teaching. Instead of thinking about the worst case scenario, think about the best ones you know. Think about those parents who truly love their kids; those who have solid healthy relationships with their children. Then reconsider this teaching from that perspective – God loves us even more, and will treat us even better than the best parents we know!


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