I have read in a few spots that the most prolific atheists out there had daddy issues. The going theory is that they transferred their views of the earthly father or father figure to God. The flaws they say in the early context, whether justified or not, took the appeal of reverence or awe of God right out. Assigning blankness could be empowering after a sort since their expectations of benevolence are stunted or warped.
And for those in Jesus’ time who had a relationship with God based in Old Testament theology it would be hard to see God as father explicitly. But Jesus addressed this because the New Covenant to be offered through the cross would be very familiar and very intimate.
“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; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:7-10).
it will be given to you..you will find….the door will be opened to you—Jesus is showing the loving nature of God the Father as very gracious and gives really what amounts to a guarantee. All in the “will” part.
But a guarantee is precisely what needs to be qualified briefly. God will graciously not answer our prayers with the exact result that we want. Sometimes the greatest gift of God is in saying no to the specific request but granting you what is truly needed. 20/20 hindsight often informs us and, with humility, informs our conscience for the future.
In speaking about where my conscience seems to be informed now I can use the example of healing. Joni Eareckson Tada was paralyzed from the neck down, asked God for healing and did not receive it. Her body, so it seems, is “as is” until she crosses to the other side.
But what about the healing of the heart? What about her life being a testimony of God’s grace? She is a singer, painter and artist and has influenced many people of varying hardships to embrace the message of a loving, relevant God in suffering. I see a beauty in that. The “it” given her is something else God had in mind.
seek and you will find— For anyone familiar with the Sermon On The Mount, or the general teaching of Jesus, it is obvious that the teaching of the gospel is not to see the material things as and end in themselves. The seeking, as we see later in this chapter, is to be first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). To the extent one is seeking these of God with their baggage fully disclosed is the extent that God will make such experiences found. And if you find yourself at the cusp of God’s kingdom and righteousness what is prescribed from Sacred Scripture is to put yourself out there publicly for God approval. I have knocked on the doors of clients who turned out to be no shows. It made me feel weird while I waited. I was stood up and put out there.
But God will not leave us out there. Jesus has been standing at our door long before we stood at His.
So how do we apply this accessibility to God in our gut? Jesus presupposes the natural good will to fathers about how they know they should be. Just as an atheist will project their baggage from their earthly father onto God, Jesus changes the dimension to the fathers they want to be themselves. The universal truth of caring for ones child correctly is expanded upon. Jesus strikes an emotional nerve and through it grows in the hearers the drive to live out this truth.
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him—- Jesus carries the conversation from the listeners sincere love for this children and knowledge that they needs forgiveness.
God wills to give to us from His essence. This is why the parallel passage to this in Luke says Holy Spirit instead of good things. This is where pure religion stands out. The impure kind that falls short of the fullness of God’s love is transactional. The pure is constant in it’s opportunity to be accessed in faith and is relational. We can be atheists if we want. We can be deists of a God who just exists. Or we can be radically transformed by the message of Jesus Christ for now and eternity.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).
PS I think this should go without saying, but if one asks God for forgiveness He will forgive. 100% I guarantee it. This I read and this I know.