Wondering About God?
If you want to know the truth about God - really know the truth - you are a "seeker." That's a great thing to be, because according to Jesus, seekers find what they're looking for.
Seekers come in all shapes and sizes. They have a variety of backgrounds. Some don't believe in God; others do believe in God, but aren't sure how to connect with Him. What all seekers have in common is the fact that they've stopped pretending they have it all together. They're open to the possibility God may exist, and more importantly, that He may want a place in their lives. They know they don't know —but they want to know.
If you're a seeker, how do you go about this all-important task of pursuing God and His truth? Well, the following outline doesn't claim to be the final and authoritative word on the subject. But —with a humble recognition that the stakes are sky-high and believing you are very precious to God —here are four questions to help you in your search.
1. Why do you want to know God?
2. Are you placing limitations on God?
3. What do you think about Jesus ?
4. How will you respond to Jesus?
1. Why do you want to know God —what do you hope to get from Him?
People seek God for a variety of reasons. Some think their search will lead to a more fulfilling life or a greater sense of purpose. Others are looking for relief from their pain. Still others are curious and just want to find out what's true.
What's your reason?
You should be aware of your aspirations and motivations, because you may be looking for the wrong thing.
For example, perhaps you're a seeker because you want to find greater happiness. What if you do find God, but your life circumstances lead to less happiness? Will you feel cheated? Believers often report that God gives them greater joy, meaning, and purpose in life. But nearly every believer will also admit to experiencing periods of difficulty.
So this is a good question to ask yourself: What am I looking for? And, conversely, What does God offer me?
As you read God's book, the Bible, you'll discover how much He's already given. But He may not give you exactly what you've anticipated. So expect the unexpected, and make it your goal to find God, no matter what the outcome or perks. The bottom line is that a true seeker seeks the Giver of life, not just His gifts.
2. Are you placing limitations on God?
Two people who have fallen deeply in love don't go into marriage with the intention of ignoring each other's wishes after the wedding ceremony. Such a commitment involves adjusting personal priorities in the interest of building the relationship. When they establish their residence, for example, a couple will usually discuss at length the furnishings, wall hangings, and other touches that will make their house (or apartment) a home. In the same way, it would be absurd for a seeker to open up to God but give no thought to the possibility that God may want to rearrange a few pieces of furniture when He moves in.
Of course, some people are fearful that God wants to throw out all the furniture and condemn their house as uninhabitable. But nothing could be further from the truth! God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. Through the Bible, God tells us that He wants us to enjoy this life in a way that's in line with His purpose for us.
But the question remains: Do you realize that God wants to be a powerful presence in your life, not just an idea in your head?
Many seekers declare intellectual reasons for dismissing the claims of the Bible, but in truth, they are not willing to give up some activity they know is offensive to God. If that's you, you need to know that God will take you as you are, but He doesn't want to leave you as you are. He wants you to let Him make you into what He wants you to be.
3. What do you think about Jesus?
A spiritual seeker may think the proper order of inquiry is to first decide if there is a God (a philosophical question) and then figure out who Jesus is (a historical question). But another and possibly even more exciting way would be the reverse order.
Many seekers discover that when they deal with the person of Jesus, they find answers to many of their other questions at the same time.
Is there a God?
Yes, and He came to earth in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in John chapter 16, verse 28, "I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."
Does God love me?
Yes! Look at what He did to show that love: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John chapter 3, verses 16, 17).
What religion is the right one?
Reconsider that question in the light of the fact that God wants a relationship with you, not your religious affiliation. "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians chapter 3, verses 26-28).
What do I have to do to live forever?
Accept Jesus as your forgiver and your God. See John chapter 6, verse 40: "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day."
How can I experience meaning and purpose in life?
By following Jesus and by cultivating your relationships with God and with other people. Matthew chapter 22, verses 37-40 says: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
According to the Bible, until a seeker comes to terms with Jesus, he or she hasn't dealt with the issue that's most important in starting a relationship with God.
Consider this reality: Jesus is the most influential person in history. A poor itinerant preacher, the son of a carpenter but also the Son of God, changed the entire course of world history.
How can any serious spiritual search overlook Him? For example, today's date is based on a reckoning that hinges on Jesus' life. Because of Him, people were moved to split world history into two eras —"before Him" and "after Him" (B.C. and A.D.).
4. How will you respond to Jesus?
It's not enough to intellectually agree with Jesus' claims. If you read the Bible and recognize Jesus as the true Son of God, a man who walked the earth, lived a perfect life, died, and rose again from the dead, you must choose to cross the line of faith and receive Him. This is a once-for-all decision. A "process" follows, but you have to start by inviting Him into your life and accepting that He paid the debt you owe for your sin but could never pay yourself.
Salvation in Jesus is a totally free gift, and receiving it is as easy as saying, "Jesus, I acknowledge my sin and Your payment for it on the cross. I now ask You to be my forgiver and my God." But you must respond personally and deliberately, or the gift will remain unopened and unenjoyed.
Some Practical Helps
Keeping in mind the previous questions, here are some practical ideas to guide you in your spiritual search:
Ask God to reveal Himself if you're not sure He's there.
Read the Bible — start with the New Testament books of John, Acts, and Romans.
Talk to people who display a genuine relationship with God — those who obviously love Him and who live by a different set of principles.
Spend time in nature, observing and experiencing God's creation.
Question things everybody seems to take for granted — be a lover of truth.
Ask God-followers why they believe what they believe and how they know their beliefs are true.
Recognize that following God must make sense: truth may go beyond reason, but not against it.
Scour the shelves at a Christian bookstore or church library for credible authors, or ask your Christian friends for a list of authors who have inspired them in their walk with God.
Write down your questions, especially about what you read in the Bible, and take them to a knowledgeable Christian who respects your seeking process.
Know your presuppositions — the things you already believe — and try not to let them interfere with your quest for the truth.
Stay open to actually finding what you're looking for: fear of commitment and change can keep you from finding the truth.
Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings during your search.
Know your personal issues: your past will profoundly influence your present ability to be objective.
Remember that you don't have to know everything to know something.
Determine to seek for a specific period of time, and continually evaluate your progress. Then try to reach an appropriate conclusion.
Act on what you decide.