Christ’s words are challenging for us to believe, as is evidenced by the number of sermons attempting to explain away statements that seem fairly straightforward, like, ask and it will be given to you; or, don’t be anxious about what you will eat or drink, because your Father knows that you need these things; or, you will bear much fruit.
If a human being made any of these same statements to us, and we knew they had what it took to back them, we would take their words literally. And indeed, charlatan preachers say they do, encouraging us to ask for a Ferrari because Jesus told us to ask and we would receive. (It works for them, doesn’t it?) These people cause incredible damage because they twist and contort words to fit their own ends, promoting a (healthy) sense of cynicism in people who recognize scam artists when they see them.
But the Words, What about the Words?
But the words remain, and away from the name-it-claim-it crowd, deep in the bowels of conservative evangelical realms, convoluted sermons about what they mean persist, because, frankly, most of us have not seen actual manifestations of those words in our lives: we ask, but we don’t receive, and we know we’re not asking for something ridiculous. So we get sermons like, “Ask, and Christ will send you something completely opposite to what you’re really asking for, because it’s good for you, and it was wrong of you to want what you asked for in the first place.” Or, “Maybe His answer is just plain No.” (Then why does the desire not go away, we wonder? Couldn’t He get rid of that as well?)
But maybe we’re stopping at the wrong point. Maybe the concept of asking, and praying, and communicating with our Father is an ongoing element of our lives, and as we learn more, we give it another go, so to speak, and see where we wind up next. I’m reminded of a recent exercise class I attended, in which I ended the session with a run around the block (on Main Street, in a small gossipy town, no less), and I absolutely hate running.
But this time, building on previous runs, I ran better than I did the very first time, and as I did so, I thought – it’s a process, strengthening the body, in the same way as understanding Christ’s words, and talking to Him about it. So why not ask, and continue to ask, and follow the path before us, and see where we wind up? In other words, why not take that jog around the block, ignore the stares – perceived or real – and see what happens as and when we persist?
Thank you for joining me at this woman writes, where I spend time — like the woman in Steve Henderson’s artwork, Catching the Breeze, above — wondering and pondering, praying, and giving a shot at believing Christ’s words are true. I find this easiest to do outside of the white noise of pop culture Christianity.