On matters of physical survival, Jesus stated that it was not necessary to use too many words, to ask Him to provide what we want. God knows what we want before we ask (Matthew 6:7-8). This is why Christ gave specific guidelines on how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13).
However, in Matthew 7:7 Jesus advised us to ask, so as to obtain what we want. There appears to be some contradiction which we have to deal with here. What does Christ expect from Christians, whom He calls His brothers, or children of God?
The prayer model that Jesus recommended, invalidates issues of personal survival. His instruction is that we should, instead, first seek the Kingdom of God, as all other things would then be added (Matthew 6:25-34). Where does that leave us, as far as prayer is concerned? The key lies in the Kingdom of God and on how one can obtain God’s Kingdom.
In one of His maiden parables, Jesus stated that the Kingdom of heaven was like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45). The search here does not involve other people. The person engages him/herself into searching, without involving other people. He/she desires to obtain fine pearls.
The pearl of great value is to be appreciated by him/her alone. No-one, including God, can convince the person what constitutes great value. However, the most interesting thing is that all human beings desire great value. Their racial or social background doesn’t matter. They are all in search of great value.
All religions of this world promise great value. Such religions are what describes the intensity with which people search for great value. People are prepared to sacrifice everything, for anything considered to be of great value. God knows that humans need that value, but he would not just dish it out, except to those in need of it.
There are many things that we describe as value, when the truth would be the opposite. Christ did not hide the fact that He was the authority on all issues of survival. Wise people would obviously seek to ask Him to provide them with understanding.
The issue of God’s Kingdom is a matter of choice for everyone. God intends that those who enter it, be only those desiring to come at their own volition. “For God so loved that world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
When God created Man in His own image, that Man would bear His own likeness. If God is not a robot, the Man in His own image cannot be a robot. That Man has to think like God, with character similar to that of God. Like Jesus, that person is able to say “anyone who has seen me has seen my Father.” The similitude of this Man to God is both in character and form.
God will never impose His character on any person, in order to make him/her bear God’s character. Nevertheless, all humans want survival. Even worst criminals will tell you that the reason why they are involved in criminal activities is that they want to survive. They kill other people; with the intention of obtaining that which they consider to be valuable to them.
The usage of law to direct an individual into living righteously does not help character development. The person can be law-abiding and subservient to God’s authority. However, that would not be Godly character, in whose image the person was created. God is not under the school master of the Law, as He is the Law-maker. It is not possible for God to sin, because of His nature.
A person living under the school-master of the Law cannot maintain the integrity that makes it impossible for Him to sin. A person in God’s image is naturally like His Father. Character development does not necessarily come by education, but by personal choice, where one is able to choose what is right or not. The person of good character is more interested in truth.
This is why Jesus declared to Pilate: “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (Matthew 18:37).
For purposes of appreciating what truth is, so as to understand what Jesus meant, I encourage readers to access this post: [Truth is outside religion and philosophy]. There are a lot of things interpreted as truth when, actually, being false.
A person of good character is directed by truth, not falsehood. However, a person of bad character, hates the truth, desiring that it doesn’t exist. The reason why a person of bad character doesn’t like the truth is that it exposes him/her.
Bad characters want to be good, but they do not want the responsibility that goes with it. Because they are proud, they would rather pretend to be good, in order to obtain the respect from other people. This is what makes them hate the truth, because it exposes their lie, inviting ridicule from other people.
Remember, all human beings want survival. For instance, in times of scarcity a person of good character can never succumb to corruption, no matter how difficult the economic conditions. However, a person of bad character thrives under those conditions, even desiring that such conditions remain.
He may be quite vocal about criticizing other people, seen as corrupt, but deeply desiring that such conditions remain. As long as he himself is making comfortable gains.
The person of good character desires survival, just as the person of bad character desires survival. A careful analysis reveals that there cannot be truth in sustaining gains from corruptible activities.
Like the person of truthful disposition, he/she, therefore, engages him/herself in activities that seek to address corruption. That person may not live comfortably, but is free from shame.
He/she thinks like God. He/she may, or may not even be aware that such behavior actually describes God’s nature. But, that person’s ability to avoid stealing, without being conscious of God’s laws, reflects God’s character.
However, if that person avoids corruption, only because God abhors it, that person still has got a long way to go, before achieving God’s character.
It is like saying I will not steal because God says I should not steal. What the person is saying is; if it wasn’t for God’s law, I would go ahead and steal, anyway.
This, therefore, describes the reason why Jesus brought us liberty from the law. Those who abide by Law are not God’s children. They still need to be tested, before they can be approved to be adopted as God’s children. They are not different from those corruptible people who are not even conscious of God’s Law.
So, when Jesus says “Ask and it shall be given to you” He expects you to display your desire for God’s Kingdom, as appreciating its value. God could give all of us His Kingdom, without us asking. But that would be violating His integrity and at the same time violating our own rights to choose what we want.
Now, let us come back to our parable of the fine pearl. Each of us is granted the right to choose things of value. Jesus says if you have a challenge in that area, He is there to help, if you ask Him. He cannot just give you what you have not committed yourself to desire.
This is why prayer is probably the most important activity in a Christian’s life. Due to our background, we may naturally not have wisdom in making choices. Due to benefits enjoyed by corrupt people, we may assume that as value, even desiring to be like corrupt people, for instance.
We succumb to sinning, due to inability to evaluate between things of value and things of no value. Satan bombards us with all falsehoods, giving us comfort, as to be unable to bother ourselves with things of value, as compared with valuelessness.
As I have said in previous posts, religion is the most serious cause of blinding people from the truth. Religion gives you comfort that you are alright in the eyes of God. But God needs your character more than obedience to His written laws.
You may not steal because the Bible says “don’t steal” but how would you behave, without the Bible? God needs your own independent character and choice without His involvement.
A person who independently discovers what God’s Kingdom entails, is prepared to sell everything, including the comfort of his/her religion and take God’s Kingdom as his/her primary treasure. In God’s Kingdom, everything is available.
But one needs to first of all understand what that Kingdom entails. A Kingdom is not a democracy. Please take time to view another of my posts [here]. All the confusion that is peddled in the religions of this world was devised by Satan, so that what is highlighted, even on this post, cannot be appreciated.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99