Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Imagine a World 4

ImagineaWorld.jpgImagine a world — at Jesus’ invitation — where God is good, where God’s people come to him  with their requests, and where God responds to them. Imagine a world where God is good, where God is gracious, where God wants to respond to the needs of his people. Imagine a world where God trust God and so go to him with their needs.

The Parable of the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8; after the jump), which is sometimes read to mean that God answers in order to avoid his name being besmirched or at other times as one that teaches that persistence pays in prayers, but Klyne Snodgrass (Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus
) is not alone in showing that the crucial word (anaideia) does not mean that. The meaning of this parable does not hinge on our being like the knocker or God being like the sleeper.
Instead, this parable is about a God who is dramatically unlike that sleeper who got up only because of the prayer’s boldness. The parable doesn’t teach us to be bolder and if we are God will eventually give in; it doesn’t teach rudeness. Nor does it teach that God is like that sleeper. Instead, it is clever Jewish irony and a fortiori logic: if fathers act like this and eventually give in to rude neighbors, how much more will the good God, the Father, respond in grace. That is why the next set of teachings, which in my view function as the nimshal (the interpretation), focus on God being so much better than human fathers.
So, let us learn to re-imagine our world and learn to re-imagine it as a world shaped and governed by a good God, the Father, who loves us, who cares for us, and wants to provide for us. Let us go to that God.
What does a world look like when this parable shapes us?


11:5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 11:6 because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 11:7 Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 11:8 I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.


11:9 “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11:11 What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 11:13 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

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John M

posted August 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks Scott and Klyne. As a kid I always heard the “God will finally answer if we keep pounding on the door,” interpretation of the parable. I never really considered the contradiction to God’s nature, it was just another Bible story. As an adult, though, I have wondered… This lens of intrepretation removes the cognitive dissonance and enriches the teaching that follows. It also heightens one’s appreciation for Jesus’ sharpness, wit and creative teaching methods.

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posted August 2, 2010 at 9:33 am

I preached this text yesterday, and I am indebted to Klyne for pointing me in the right direction for interpretation. As he is fond of saying, “texts create a world,” and a better one at that!

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Bill Donahue

posted August 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

I have found that He has already been awake all night, eager for my prayer, steady with his grace, and extravagant with His love. Such is the God who calls us friend. I weep at the thought, especially with the incessant buzzing of a world that seeks to destroy such beauty at every turn. He could simply swat us like bugs. I cannot — I dare not — imagine a world without our God.

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Stacey LaCour

posted August 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

August 2nd, 2010 1:07 pm ET
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
I am only a Central Louisiana resident. No expert on any subject. I have not even been into the southern Gulf areas since the oil leak. I feel that this is what is referred to in the bible as God, turning the waters of the earth into blood. I am no religon expert, not even someone who goes around yelling to people to repent. But there are so many areas being affected, and now there is another oil leak in a lake in the northern US area. It is killing fish, and water life, plants, etc. If everyone will go into their bible and read what is to come, the things are stacking up. The fires in Russia, the continued move that Iran is making on the rest of us. The temprature rising all over the planet. Heat waves killing people, Wars in areas and rumors of wars. People, it is like buying health insurance before you get sick. Pray for us all, each other, and our earth and we are just purchasing insurance for our eternity.
Please yall, start to pray, daily, hourly if you can remember to. It can only help. The non believers can pray, just to cover all bases. What can it hurt? And those of us who believe, we know the good that can come from it. The ladies from Garabandal, Spain, Medjughore, etc are bringing messages that tell us over and over to get right. To pray, to behave. Why not make an experiment out of it. Let’s all just try to pray for each other and our government officials and see what happens

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Michael W Kruse

posted August 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Ken Bailey suggests that in such a village people would have lived very close together. Neighbors would have overheard the commotion and dialog. The man fulfills the request to avoid shame in a culture that expected hospitality. Don’t know that it adds that much to the story but he is making the same point.

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John W Frye

posted August 3, 2010 at 1:35 am

Lutsk, Ukraine
Like many, I grew up with the traditional teaching that the story was about persistent prayer. You weren’t really praying unless it was fervent and enduring. God played the sleeper (God couldn’t *really* be so unkind) in order to train us to pray. Like MWK #5, Ken Bailey exposed the error of the traditional view, and K Snodgrass exposes it even more. Oh the grace of “how much more…”

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