Dear Theophilus… Dec 2018

Dear TheophilusOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder, what is your over-riding image of God, and does that image affect the way you pray to him? Is your image of an angry head master or an absent-minded old man? Is it of a god with more pressing issues to deal with than yours or a god with limited resources that he needs to ration out? Is your image of God of an unjust Judge or is it of a loving heavenly Father with all the resources of the heaven and earth at his disposal?

Jesus taught a parable about a widow who persistently seeks justice from an unjust judge. He did this to teach the people, and us, that we ‘should always pray and not give up’ and in it, Jesus compares God to an unjust judge.

What Jesus is not doing is saying is that God is like an unjust judge who needs to be pestered to get justice. What he is doing is saying is that, if this unjust, godless judge will eventually give the widow justice against her adversary, if only for a quiet life, how much more will God bring justice to his chosen ones who plead with him day and night.

We worship and pray to a ‘how much more’ God. In Matthew 12:12 Jesus challenges the people about legalism on the Sabbath ‘You’d rescue a sheep that had fallen in a pit on the Sabbath, how much more valuable are you than a sheep!’ Elsewhere he talks about the ravens that ‘neither sow, reap or sore in barns, ‘but God provides for them. How much more valuable are you than the birds?’ And of the wild flowers he says, ‘If God clothes the grass of the field, how much more will he clothe you!’ (Luke 12:24,28)

But he also wants to know that we are serious about our prayers, and not like children with a Christmas wish list who change it right up to Christmas Eve according to the latest TV ads, leaving confused parents with no idea what to give them. So, using a continuous verb form, Jesus says, ‘Ask, and keep on asking, and you will receive, Seek, and keep on seeking, and you will find, knock, and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. And he continues ‘You know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will God give good gifts to those who ask!’ (Matthew 7:7,11)

We don’t pray to an unjust judge, a forgetful old man, or someone with limited time or resources, we pray to a ‘how much more’ God.

David

Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you!