Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ask, Seek, Knock, for bread

Spiritual Bread Luke 11:1-13
from a Feb. 2008 column in the Mapleton PRESS

FYI: 'Bethlehem' is Hebrew for 'House of Bread' or 'bakery.' Ironic since Jesus himself is the 'Bread of Life.' Since this week's part of the Advent wreath is the Bethlehem candle, I thought that this old column inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be appropriate for an Advent devotion.

Last month, I started re-reading a book of sermons by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “Strength to Love,” from 1963. Many people would be surprised by what a Biblical teacher King was because we tend to take him for granted as a cultural icon or a Black leader or a political activist.

One chapter in particular struck me as something that we could all use these days. Let’s face it, this is a time of high anxiety and stress for many of us. Governor Culver recently tried to reassure Iowans that we’re in better shape than the nation as a whole to face the coming recession. But come on, things have been getting hard for all of us for a long time.

Wars, stagnant wages, increasing costs of living especially gas, food, heating fuel and health insurance, talk of climate change, cultural change, and global competition have all left us a little frazzled. Perhaps you’re finding that just the challenges of daily life, let alone personal tragedies and crises are wearing you down.

Rev. King talked about Jesus’ parable of the man who knocks on his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread found in Luke 11:5-8.

“The traveler asks for three loaves of bread,” Dr. King wrote. The three things we need most are faith, hope and love.

“In a generation of so many colossal disappointments, men have lost faith in God, faith in man, and faith in the future…in the midst of staggering disillusionment, many cry for the bread of faith.”

“There is also a deep longing for the bread of hope.” Dr. King continued, “In the early years of this century many people did not hunger for this bread. The days of the first telephones, automobiles, and airplanes gave them a radiant optimism. They worshiped at the shrine of inevitable progress. They believed that every new scientific achievement lifted man to higher levels of perfection.”

But as we all know, came WWI and WWII and the Cold War. We realized that technology won’t produce a futuristic utopia. We may have more than enough food to eradicate world hunger, but greed and corruption prevent us from ever being able to get the food to who needs it. The twentieth century left mankind wounded and disillusioned.

King lamented that “the light of hope went out, and they roamed wearily in the dark chambers of pessimism. Many concluded that life has no meaning… But even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.”

If anything, we’ve learned too well that life is not fair. Some people don’t even see the point in trying anymore.

Finally, MLK pointed out what we are most starved for.

“There is the deep longing,” King wrote, “for the bread of love. Everybody wishes to love and to be loved. He who feels that he is not loved feels that he does not count. Much has happened in the modern world to make men feel that they do not belong. Living in a world which has become oppressively impersonal, many of us have come to feel that we are little more than numbers.”

We all need to find ways to get out of bed in the middle of the night and come to our neighbor’s aid. We all need to try to feed others in anyway we can but we should also remember where to turn when times get worst.

Luke 11: 5-8 has a man asking to borrow bread from a neighbor, but in Luke 11:1-4, Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer and in 11:9-13, He urges us to pray and ask God’s help for anything we need. If we need faith, hope, or love, all we have to do as ask, seek, or knock.


  1. Knock knock, anyone home?

    I work with a human oddity. Drinks like a fish and professes to be a Pentacost. I love the sinner and how about the sins?

    Are those two things separate or not?

    Now that's the question my friend.

    You are what you eat you know and peace to the believers in any case.

    Peace to the believers.

  2. I wish I knew what to tell you Meg. Hypocrisy is a huge problem, always has been, always will be. As is substance abuse.

    I recently lost by brother-in-law to alcohol and depression when he took his own life. He loved the Lord and was sought the "bread of life" in the Bible and church attendance and communion all the time.

    On the one hand, your pentecostal friend may not deliberately be a hypocrite, he/she may not realize what a problem he/she has. And on the other hand, if the relationship is toxic or even dangerous to you, you may need to get away from that person.

    I'll never tell you that just believing in Jesus is going to magically make your life and all your relationships nothing but sunshine and roses. But if your relationship is toxic or when all the supposed "Christians" around you are sick or phony or both- that's all the more reason for you to dig into prayer and Bible reading for yourself and to deliberately offer patience and kindness and empathy to others because you need to be fed in order to be strong enough to stand up to, challenge, or avoid all the liars and cheaters and fools that you have to put up with every day.

    Again, Jesus urges us to pray and ask God’s help for anything we need. If we need faith, hope, or love, all we have to do as ask, seek, or knock. -Beg, plead, DEMAND that God help you and your friend. Don't give up, be tenacious.

    God wants to help, don't give up on God, not matter how sick, wrong, or stupid His followers seem to you. Even if you can never believe in His believers, you can still believe in Him.