By Derek Maul

Sometimes when I go to church a phrase or an idea sticks on me, grabbing hold and refusing to let go. Often it’s the message; sometimes it comes from the songs or prayers; then there are the days where my discipleship class lesson resonates.

This past weekend was inspirational in many ways, but today I woke up with Matthew 7 on my mind. We’re studying The Sermon on the Mount, and my class enjoyed a great conversation around what is usually headlined the “Ask, Seek, Knock” passage.

Jesus puts a lot of emphasis in the Sermon on the Mount reminding his listeners:

The only thing we need to be concerned about is seeking God’s kingdom as our first priority;

It’s not the show-offs who are blessed so much as those who are humble; God has no time for the self-righteous;

When we worry, we become the servants of the stuff we’re worried about;

We can’t manipulate God; “God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

We can ask, and seek, and knock all day long; and some believe they can make God grant their wishes if they just believe hard enough and use the right magic words; and the vulnerable still send televangelists money along with their prayers…

But it’s in the humble, sincere, heartfelt seeking that God comes to us; and our prosperity – our success – is the richness of a renewed, reconciled, radically new relationship with the “God who knows how to give good things to those who ask” (Luke 11:13).

Yet people still try to leverage Christianity to advance their own agenda, their own politics; their own demands for more. The more Jesus I learn, the more I understand the most compelling evidence of God is humility, kindness, gentleness, and the heart of a servant.