“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; the one who knocks, it will be opened. Which 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 gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).
So often we make faith more complex than it really needs to be.
Jesus wants us to understand that the Christian life is not that complex. Religious people, Scribes, Pharisees, and people like me have made the Christian life far too complicated. In fact, the religious leaders or Jesus’ time had constructed over 600 laws of behavioral modification for the people to God. Jesus dismantled each one, and guides us into a simple, basic, transformational understanding of the Christian life with three simple essentials.
First essential, the foundation of fundamentals. The fundamentals of the faith are so basic that sometimes we forget them.
Actions like ask, seek, knock, that lead us to our God who can be found. Then God tells us to give back, just as we have received.
Over the last 20 years of working in Christian ministry, when counseling a man or woman, I usually ask, “How often are you engaging in reading the Bible, prayer, and in a Christian community?”
Typically, those going through hard times have forgotten these three basics:
1. Read the Bible on a daily and regular basis.
2. Pray on a daily and regular basis.
3. Connect and fellowship in some form of Christian relationship and community on a daily and regular basis.
If you simply did those things you would put yourself in a place where God’s Spirit could do work in your life.
Second essential, trust God.
Jesus assures us that God won’t throw us a stone when we need bread. God loves us, and provides for his children.
Trust is an unusual and powerful commodity, after being established, it can be destroyed in a second. Once broken, rebuilding can take years.
Just ask a husband who’s cheated on a wife, or a businessman who has lied on his taxes.
But Jesus tells us that trust in God is built instantly by the character of God. Since God’s infallible character is the basis of our trust, we are safe. He never changes and always does what is true and just and right in every situation.
Third essential, persistence.
I love how Jesus repeats statements over and over again. And every time He repeats something it’s always about persistent action–continuing to ask, continuing to seek, and continuing to knock.
And I think that Jesus Christ wants to draw our attention to not just behaviors, but actions over a long period of time that stretch our heart toward the prize in Christ Jesus, stretching us heavenward.
The essentials to the Christian life boil down to the fundamentals, trust and persistence. Combining those creates a remarkably simple, yet courageously strong faith.
Heavenly Father, Burn into our minds the simplicity of the gospel. Strip away all of our religiosity and righteousness that’s based on behaviors. God, thank you for loving us. Because of your faithfulness, we can trust You and persevere through hard times. Help us all to be faithful to you. In Jesus name, amen.