Blogpost written for Bethel Seminary’s blog, February 2014.
Since I’m a Christian, I’m a Seeker. I know, this is a controversial thing to say. In the faith tradition that I grew up in it is always paramount that people find Jesus and then are able to recount how they have found what they were looking for and now are done searching. If, after this finding, you have the nerve to say that you are still searching, people stand ready to judge you: “You haven’t really found Jesus yet,” or “You still need a breakthrough from the Spirit in your life,” etc. Things are not right when you are still searching.
I’ve been cruising along on the Christian bandwagon long enough to know that the greatest nonsense is proclaimed with the best of intentions and that many well-intentioned people build on the quicksand of prejudice and imaginary security. The thought that after the encounter with Jesus there is nothing to explore or find—that the mere mentioning of seeking is politically incorrect—I gladly relegate to the scrapheap of infantile imagination and lack of realism. Here are a few reason why…
1. First and foremost, we will not find anything if we have not been first searched for. “Seek and you will find,” Jesus says. But is not he first the Seeking One? Is he not the good shepherd who leaves the sheep behind to look for the lost lamb? I have to agree with my Calvinistic sisters and brothers: there is nothing in us that longs for God. We prefer to run away: away from truth, away from the reality of our lostness, away from that which might save us. We do not want to be found at all. It is entirely the Seeking One who gives us the grace to say: I have found Jesus.
2. Well, sure, it is great that you have found it, but what or who did you find? You have no idea who Jesus is. For all his ‘foundness’ Jesus is still an unknown entity. So the idea that when you have found Jesus you are done searching, expresses grave ignorance of Jesus as well as oneself. It’s a gross over-estimation of one’s knowing. Only after coming to know Christ, you truly come to know yourself. You seek Christ and find yourself. You realize how far removed you are from the ideal picture you had of yourself. You’re immature, selfish, short-sighted, etc. Saying to have found it is saying you have arrived, that somehow Jesus has already transformed you into a better person, that life no longer has anything to offer you. But how about the search for the authentic you in whom Christ takes shape? How about the true you in Christ? Both Christ and Christ’s likeness taking shape in you are unknown.
3. There is something else. Being done searching is like ducking your head in the sand. “First I was in the pit, but then Jesus came. He saved me (from the pit) and now everything is good, beautiful, delightful, fun, fine, happy, happy… glory, glory, glory.” Not! The lives of believers about which we can read in the Bible, are lives full of pain, lack of fulfillment, despair…. well, searching. Christians are confronted with their true selves, encounter bad luck, undergo pain and loss. The pain and despair that none of us can escape force us to start searching, to ask God, to invoke Jesus for his help. It is only when you come to know Jesus that the journey begins en route the promised land, fulfillment, God. The idea that this journey issues from a position of having “found it” is a big misunderstanding. Rather this journey is set in motion through the very pain for which we had initially searched and found Jesus. But now that we have found Jesus we start searching for real; prompted by that same pain, many of the same questions, and above all the bewilderment at the One we have found. This is a searching in the light of which any other earthly searching simply pales.
4. The fourth and last reason why I insist that real Christians are searching is that Jesus and God are without bound or definition. With God there is always a surplus of meaning. Jesus is never the arrival point, but rather the starting point. With Jesus you make a new beginning in your relationship with God. But who is God? Exactly. Nobody knows. Those who know God (whatever that exactly means) know how true that is. God is not a being the way we understands beings to be. God cannot be defined or delimited. Any imagination of who or how God is, fall short. God is an event according to some. Others would like to say that God is not a being but rather the ground of being. Others locate God in the future from where God invites, calls and draws us. These are mere human conceptions. God is infinite. The concept of infinity merely begins to point to the reality of God. Whoever finds herself placed into a relationship with God through Jesus stands at the beginning of an endless search in which the contours of God will always be in a state of becoming and in which the self is accordingly transformed.
Perhaps it is for this reason that Bono of U2 sings “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” Whatever the case may be, since I found Jesus, I’m searching.