Remember that little Golden Rule you were taught as a child? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Jesus says we should treat others with compassion and grace because God has done the same for us. As a good parent he lavishes good things on us when we ask. But there is a problem here. I'm not sure I always believe this is the way God works. On many occasions I have asked God for something and he has remained silent, or even worse, he has given me something I didn't ask for or didn't want.
Where is God when we hurt? Why does he remain distant and silent at times? Is it okay to doubt God or be angry with him? These are tough questions and I don't pretend to know the answers (be cautious of those who say they do!), but on Sunday, November 14, I preached on Matthew 7:7-12, and I tried to acknowledge that it's alright to ask such questions.
Jesus says we should ask, seek and knock. Proverbs instructs us to call, cry, look and search to find God. David doubts and complains: "How long, Lord, how long?" U2 reminds us to run, crawl and "scale these city walls" and asks if we'll ever find what we're looking for. If you are interested in these themes you can read my sermon here.
Here are a few excerpts:
- Why should we live out the Golden Rule and treat others with goodness and compassion? Because we are to show the same grace and mercy that our Father God has shown to his children. Go ahead and treat others the way you want to be treated, but ultimately, treat them the way God has treated you.
- Our job as God‘s children, both individually and corporately, is to use every means possible to find God. And when we do, we are promised by our Father that we will not be ignored. In essence, this is the struggle—and the joy—of each believer‘s life: to ask and to receive, to search and to find, to knock and to have another door opened.
- David was not afraid to ask the hard questions of God. He was not afraid to simply be human before the divine. David kicks at God and accuses God. "Where are you, God? Why have you deserted me? Where did you go to? How long will you ignore me? How long will you cause my suffering? How long, Lord, how long?" David gives us permission, by his example, to yell, scream, and even cuss at God.
- As David demonstrates, the temple, the sanctuary, the church community is the absolute best place to go to ask questions of God. There is no better environment than being with brothers and sisters to do the heartfelt, gut-wrenching, soul-searching work of asking, seeking and knocking.
- Go ahead and shout at God. He can take it. Go ahead and question God. He is big enough. But, please, never, ever stop talking to him. He would rather have you yelling and doubting, like David, than not talking at all.
- Some critique U2 and say, "See, we knew they weren‘t Christians; they just said so. They haven‘t found God yet." But I say that‘s exactly the kind of Christian God calls us to be—always searching, always looking, always running.
Here is the U2 clip I showed in my sermon.
Here is the sermon.
Here is the MP3 (see "Second Service, November 14), but unlike Bono, I don't "like the sound of my own voice."