As it is the Rio Olympics at the moment, I thought that games and races might be a pleasent topic to explore. So let’s do a quest game that is a race!
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 (KJV)
Oft times people only remember the part “seek and ye shall find.” However what Matthew says is so important, it is in essence repeated in the very next sentence. Experienced bible readers will know that if something is important it is repeated, either in the same book, or elsewhere in the bible. “Seek and ye shall find” is initially given in a context – that of asking, being given, seeking, finding, knocking, and opening. Lest you be tempted to take any of these six elements out of context, Matthew repeats all six elements in the same order in the very next passage. I think it therefore safe to say that all six are essential to the concept Matthew is trying to convey and in that order.
So, when you need something – perhaps something you have lost, or maybe something you simply need – don’t just say to yourself in a “secular” way “seek and ye shall find” as if like some hopeful mantra this will simply aid your perseverance “acting in your own strength” and so lead to your finding whatever it is you seek. Matthew is telling you to ASK first, then you will be GIVEN something to help you in the seeking (the Holy Spirit) THEN SEEK and you will FIND. Sadly even then most people will stop. Hey-ho I got what I was seeking game over. No! Matthew has reiterated that there are still two elements to do. KNOCK and it shall be OPENED. But surely you have what you sought? How about some gratitude though? Maybe knock on God’s gate just to say thank you? God has all sorts of lovely surprises. If you were ever blessed, perhaps as a child, to have a relative who you would go visit to say thank you for a gift and at that meeting they would then give you something more, then you have already experienced what paying a grateful visit to your creator can be like.
There is a clue to the gift you will receive. Matthew does not say you what you knock on. People think usually in terms of a door, but Matthew only a little further on is letting you in on some further information you need on your quest – yes it IS like an questing adventure game – you do have to strive to achieve the ultimate prize in the race of life (Psalm 19:5, Ecclesiastes 9:11, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1).
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Matthew 7:14 (KJV)
It is not a door you are knocking on – well think about it – where in a naïf sense would you find God living? – Heaven. Never heard of Heaven’s gate? Think of the walled cities – gates. Jesus being a “good shepherd” and sheep pens with gates to keep them safe. Anyway Matthew has made it easy, he’s told you its a gate, that is narrow (strait) found on a narrow way, he has said where it leads (life – hint: God is the source of all life) and (big hint) that this is something for the seeker (few there be that find it). So its a GATE you need to KNOCK on. THEN it gets OPENED and you get your big surprise extra reward, that you did not expect. And even though you read all this stuff about God, and you read in the bible what heaven is like – you see through a glass darkly, you CANNOT imagine the things God has ready to give you in the eternal life to come. Not things you ask for, you are not capable of asking for what you cannot imagine, so God does not expect you to ask for what happens once the gate has been opened. God operates through a relationship of grace. Go get to know Him, for sure ask for your simple needs but when you are seeking, remember Matthew already gave you the information about WHAT you should REALLY BE SEEKING before you got to the bit about seek and ye shall find:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 7:14 (KJV)
In summary, life is a race, but the swiftest runners are not doing it in their own strength – they get help from God. In Isaiah we have a whole section about gates in the description of the temple, but since Jesus made the new covenant we know the temple is now in us and the gate is the narrow one that Matthew describes, but the bible gives us clues on our quest, which is why we don’t just abandon the teachings God gave us before Jesus came and redeemed us with the new covenant. Close by Isaiah’s information about gates you will find:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
You wanna run the race? Go seek God, see what He wants you to do, do it, and you’ll find Him directing your steps along that race, the shortest most direct route. The real universe is not just the three or four dimensions you can experience easily – there are many more (Paul talks about this and I have blogged about it extensively). We all know the quicker route is the straight one, this road is straight but it goes to other dimensions – heaven. You are SEEKING that ROAD because you are seeking the WAY to Kingdom of Heaven. It is not in a direction YOU can even see, let alone run along, in your own strength. You need to find the WAY. You have been told where to find the way. You need to go meet the WAY and when you do He will show you and help you to run it. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake… Psalm 23 – the clues are everywhere once you start reading the bible. Go knock on His gate – its right there, inside you, in your heart. Your heart beats knock knock knock – a clue. It has a double beat, boom-boom, a clue to the original two tablets of the law, which is now graven on your heart – your conscience. In Psalm 19:8 you can see these words set out literally written there for you right next to each other: “…the heart: the commandment…” just another clue for you there. And you need a strong heart to run a race… not in your earthly strength, but in that God-logic opposite sense – weak made strong in the Saviour’s Love as the hymn goes.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6 (KJV)
Remember Psalm 19:5 – a race for a strong man is a joy? Read the rest of that Psalm and you will see the prophecy of the marriage – THE marriage of the Church and Christ. There is a prize worth running for!