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Text For The Month / Monatsspruch

Texts for the months of August and September 2011
Monatssprüche für August und September 2011

 

August 2011

Jesus Christ says: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7.7

Jesus utters these words in the so-called Sermon on the Mount. He speaks to a vast crowd. They only came to this place to hear his teachings. This verse refers to prayer and it is best appreciated within its context (from the New International Version Bible, verses 7 to 11):

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

What is your average experience if you ask for something? When you prayed “Lord, give me a job / a partner / health” did you always get it the way you wished? When you sought God, did you find what you expected? Did the doors you knocked on get opened?

As a first rule prayer is a matter of patience. God’s answers to our prayers don’t always come instantaneously. That’s no reason to stop praying.

A second rule would be to be open. The answer to our prayer may come in a different shape from that which we expected. God hears our prayers, but he has very independent ideas about what is good for us. Some of it may take us years to agree to. The dream job of old may never come. But perhaps you gradually change the way you see your current tasks. You may never be the weightlifting champion or fastest runner, but you may find things you can do better than some football stars. As for the verses “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” says that we, too, give good gifts, so how much more will our Father in Heaven do the same! And even in these examples it is not said that we will necessarily give bread or fish to our son when he asks. We may only have other food like rice, pasta or meat, which were not asked for but will do the trick (and cake or ice cream might even be more appreciated). We love our child and will not give useless (stone) or dangerous (snake) things when he has a real need. God as our Father loves us too, and he will react with good gifts to our needs.

Door drawing by B. HildebrandtRule three says that prayer is not just the asking bit, but also an active bit. We do need patience, as said in rule one. But just sitting and doing nothing is not the best way to get the answer to our prayer. We also need to go out and look for it (with patience and an open view as to what the answer might in the end turn out to be). We may have to knock on doors if they seem to lead to an answer. In the case of the job it is very good to ask God for his guidance to find one. But then we need to keep our eyes peeled in case it comes along, so we can knock at the door of our future employer. And there is nothing that says it will be opened at the first knock or it will indeed be the first door that eventually opens. Here the matter of patience comes in again. And as rule two said, the job may look different from our original idea.

Christ encourages us to pray, to ask God for things we need. But the prayer does not stop at our words, it has to trigger actions, seeking what we ask for and making an effort ourselves. Then we can trust him to give us good gifts.

 

September 2011

Jesus Christus spricht: Wo zwei oder drei in meinem Namen versammelt sind, da bin ich mitten unter ihnen. Matthäus 18,20

Christus sagt, er sei unter uns, wo zwei oder drei in seinem Namen versammelt sind. Mir sind zwei Mißverständisse eingefallen, wie dieses “unter uns” vielleicht auch gedacht werden könnte.

Unter uns – Christus könnte unter uns sein wie einer, der unter die Räuber gefallen ist. Das mag auf den ersten Blick etwas weit hergeholt sein. Aber gerade in kirchlichen Kreisen fällt es mir manchmal schmerzlich auf, wie der Geist Christi von uns Gewalt angetan bekommt. Wir ignorieren ihn, tun das Gegenteil von dem, was er uns aufgetragen hat. Auch in christlichen Vereinen und Kirchen kommt es gelegentlich zu sehr menschlichen Streitereien, bei denen die Nächstenliebe auf der Strecke bleibt.

Unter uns – wir könnten Christus (meist eher unterbewusst) in einer Hierarchie unter uns sehen. Er soll tun, was wir wollen. Auch wenn wir bitten, wie er uns im letzten Monatsspruch auffordert, möchten wir ihm doch eigentlich eher unseren Willen befehlen. Warum tut er nicht, wonach wir fragen? Ich weiss doch so viel besser als selbst der liebe Gott was mir wirklich fehlt. Und wenn er nicht bald tut, was ich erwarte, dann ist er für mich gestorben (was ja genau stimmt, aber in diesem Zusammenhang oft anders von uns gemeint ist).

Aber es heisst “mitten unter uns”. Es geht um die Versammlung. Wo Menschen in seinem Namen versammelt sind, da ist er dabei. Das muss nicht mal in Kirchen oder Vereinen sein. Man sieht ihn nicht, und darum wird er so leicht von dem Einen oder Anderen ignoriert. Aber er ist dennoch da. Und auch dieser Monatsspruch meint eigentlich nichts anderes als der des August: Gott ist mit seinem Geist bei uns. Er verspricht, dass er unser Gebet erhören will. Allerdings sagt er nicht, dass er jede Schnapsidee sofort buchstäblich für uns umsetzt. “In meinem Namen” bedeutet, dass sich die zwei oder drei an ihm orientieren und seinen Namen über sich setzen. Wenn wir ihn herrschen lassen, will er uns dienen.

Udo Bauer

 

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