Friday, July 23, 2010

Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened

The man had grown bitter in his old age. His wife had died years ago and his family had moved away long before then. Now his days were filled by looking out his apartment window at a neighborhood that had grown foreign to him. And the more he looked the more he didn't like.

Everywhere he looked, everyone seemed sinful.

"Just look at these people!" he would fume. "That bus driver should have left that stop long ago. He is so lazy, doesn't he know that people are waiting?! And look at that shopkeeper - she is so greedy! Look at those prices! And that young hood playing on those buckets - why doesn't he get a real job!"

And even though he went to church everyday, he found no peace there.

"Lord, what has happened to this place? It is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah! There isn't a righteous person among them - I wish you would just come now. These people deserve your judgement and punishment!"

Everyday, he would grumble to the Lord.

Till one day, in the midst of his complaining, he heard a voice - "You are wrong."

"What?!" the man said in amazement. "What did you say??

"You are wrong" the voice replied. "Jesus is one of those people that you are condemning."

"What?!" cried the man. "How can this be? Who is it?"

"Seek and you will find." and then the voice went silent.

As the man stumbled home, his thoughts were a blur. "Jesus is one of these people? But who? I am going to find out!"

In the following days, the man looked even more intensely at the people around him. It wasn't enough to look through his window. He came out of his apartment and watched intently.

"It couldn't be the bus driver. But wait. He stops and waits for the elderly grandmother and her young grandson to get off. It takes a long time but he is so patient. And he always smiles and has a kind word to say to them. It could be him..."

"It couldn't be the shopkeeper, she's so greedy. But wait. The people seem happy to buy her products - they don't act like they are being cheated. And she always gives the children a piece of candy and a smile and hug. It could be her..."

"And that hood? I don't like his music but he always stops to smile and thanks whomever drops a coin in his bowl. He plays with so much joy, and the people walk away smiling. It could be him..."

Everywhere the man looked, he could find something in the person that could be Jesus.

And a strange thing happened. Suddenly the neighborhood didn't seem so foreign anymore. The people did not seem like strangers anymore but like...neighbors.

And the man found that he had changed too.

He discovered that he was happier. He complained less because he found more joy. He found that it was not enough for him to just look the neighborhood through his window - he wanted to be part of the neighborhood, to be part of this new "family."

He found that Jesus was in him too! He just had to look.

This week's passage is often quoted but too often misunderstood. Some people have taken this reading and conclude that it means that God will give us whatever we want if we only seek it. Whatever we want - we just have to ask.

But that's not what this passage is saying. This passage is saying that if you ask for the Holy Spirit that it will be given to you. That the Lord knows what is best for you and that is the Holy Spirit. And that if you ask - it will be given to you and it will be better than any gift that anyone on earth can give you.

Because the Holy Spirit is transformational. It will transform you and in that transformation - it will change your world for the better.

But you have to ask, you have to seek, you have to knock - you must seek the Lord. The good thing is that he is waiting and he wants to be found!

Want more doors? In Revelation 3, the Bible tells us: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."

The point is that Jesus wants to be with us but we have to take action. In the famous picture of Jesus at the door, the usual depiction is that there is no handle on the door. That is intentional to show that Jesus cannot open the door. He can knock but we must answer - we must open the door and our hearts to Jesus.

Knock. Knock. Are you ready? Open the door! Jesus is here!


  1. You know Phil, I do not know if I've ever heard this angle. BUT, it is a great relief to me. Many times my prayer is simple, Lord your will be done. I do not even want to pretend that my plans would be worthy of the plan God has for me. So to say I am open to the Holy Spirit, and God will guide me feels so good.

  2. It's true. I am a planner too. And I can plan things to death but sometimes I just have to let it go and say, "Lord your will be done." And I think that is the Holy Spirit moving in me and telling me - Let it go. Trust in the Lord. Let go.