Updated: Feb 10, 2022
Curiosity has a way of driving our searches in life. A daily look at Google search trends will show how distracted this world is, in our oft times misguided chase after the temporary.
In a Fortune Magazine article from 2016, it was reported that "memes are more popular than Jesus in Google Trends". Up until that time, Jesus had remained in the top slot of most searched, for years.
What's got you curious?
Since the onset of Covid-19, interest in Jesus resurged with the release of the #1 crowdfunded media project in history, The Chosen. As people began to have more time on their hands than usual, while at the same time questioning all the upheaval around the world, revisiting the meaning of life, a fresh interest in the life of Jesus began to climb.
Now, it is one thing to want to learn more about Jesus, but what does it mean to "experience Jesus" in this day and time? How CAN you?!? He lived, he died. Over 2,000 years ago. And if you believe He rose from the grave as many followers do, how could we possibly expect to experience Him today? Great question. Glad you asked.
Still haven't found what you're looking for? Me too, U2.
There are some phrases, (and songs), that hang in the air of our collective consciousness for decades. Thank you Bono. No matter how many Google searches we submit, we still haven’t found what we’re looking for in our search for that elusive something.
Reality check: few of us, if any, have truly found what we are REALLY looking for.
Thruth be told, Jesus hasn't either. According to scriptures, He was sent to Earth to SEEK, and save, that which was lost. Additionally, the Bible clarifies that God (who sent Jesus) is searching "throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." This is an ongoing effort. It isn't one and done.
But you know what it's like, right? You search for that 'something' so hard that it exhausts your mind - exasperates your spirit. Like the remote when the show you have been waiting for, for days on end - finally airs. Or when your keys are missing and you HAVE to head out the door, late for a meeting. How about when your bank card goes missing and you NEED to make a purchase? That can drive you to "the cliffs of insanity". But this doesn't happen just once. It happens over and over in life.
Nevertheless - there is that 'AHA' moment in the searching - that big and beautiful find! As if, all the planets have aligned in your favor to reveal your lost treasure. Your remote shines blinding like the sword Excalibur! Your card emanates the glow of thousands of pieces of gold with a beaming cyclical rhythm! The sound of your keys jingle like the familiar sound of Santa's sleigh! Ohhhh the glory of the find! (Okay, maybe I'm over exaggerating - but you get the point).
Many of us have found searching for God, searching for peace, searching for meaning...as frustrating as that hunt for the misplaced keys. Something ... certainly … remains misplaced. And that search, goes on and on.
I once was found, but now I'm lost...
It is not unpopular these days to hear of people associated with evangelical Christianity, abandoning their faith in what is being called the great "deconstruction". "Deconstructing faith" has become a bit of a catchphrase these days - a practice made popular by the media coverage surrounding the likes of Gungor, Joshua Harris, DC Talk’s Kevin Max, Hillsong’s Marty Sampson yet, I do not wish to belittle those who find themselves at their personal crossroads with Christianity. It is easy to become disenfranchised when church is treated like a franchise rather than true loving Christian community.
I do, however, have a theory about this ...
I believe a good number of these people are not deconstructing their faith in Jesus as much as they are dismantling or unlearning their current belief in, or attachment to, 'evangelical christianity' or 'the church' as they know it.
If we are all honest, experiencing the church today can leave one cold, in a way that experiencing Jesus does not. Oftentimes, the church stands in the way of Jesus, like a detour sign redirecting traffic around our intended destination. When that happens, it is easy to become "lost again" rather than "born again".
It is my personal contention that, "the great deconstruction" may very likely be, "the great rerouting". The thing to remember is that we are all on a journey of discovery, and the Holy Spirit has this beautiful way of leading and guiding us around the detours, beyond the land of swirly twirly gumdrops, through the Lincoln Tunnel, and finally, back into "all truth".
Just because 'faith leaders' (remember, we put them there - call them that) are "losing their faith" in 'the church' or 'Christianity', does not mean they (and others that follow), will not be led back to Jesus - the source of all truth. Sometimes searching for God within Christianity or religion, requires a rerouting. And this is why an ongoing spirit of curiosity, of questioning - of discovering Jesus, is so important.
It is often necessary, that "bad truth" has to be 'unlearned' so that THE truth can take its rightful place on the throne of our hearts.
"There's a party going on right here..."
The great Rabbi in question by many, yet our saving grace here at Discovery - Jesus of Nazareth, taught a series of parables about things that "are lost" being found. As He unpacked these stories to His followers, the collective of those parables concluded with the unquestionable truth that "a great celebration surrounds a great find", and in particular, He intimates that heaven rejoices, (as in, throws a midnight massive kind of party), over 'lost people' that are found.
But I believe that celebration goes both ways. When we DO find God - in so many different ways in this life, in magical and natural moments of observation, in delightful conversations with friends, family, or strangers that step into 'the supernatural' - it sets off little explosions in our hearts and minds, that while they might get lost in the business of life, when given a moment of reflection, we rarely if ever forget.
Me?!? Yeah, You...
Let's camp there a moment longer. Imagine God - the creator of squirrels, deer, bears, lions, trees, mountains, oceans, whales, and every freaking star in the cosmos - seeking YOU out for a relationship as you are busy seeking life and purpose and meaning through other ways and means, and suddenly - you collide, and this massive supernatural celebration erupts.
How does that make you feel? That is, in essence, what He is saying in these parables.
He is seeking us out, yet, He is waiting to be found. It is both/and. And isn't that just how relationships go? In a healthy relationship, both people are seeking each other out. That is the beginning of experience with Jesus - with God - with the Spirit. Seeking and finding.
If you think this seeking aspect is limited to the parables, let's take a deeper look. In an alternate conversation where Jesus was relaying insights on the subject of prayers of petition (and the persistence that is required to obtain what you are asking for), He shares the following statement, "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
In the book of Jeremiah the prophet, God speaks, "You will seek me and find me if you search for me with all of your heart."
What's love got to do with it?
Well, one passage on this seeking and finding should grant some insight. The book of Proverbs states - from God's perspective, "I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me will find me.".
Apparently, love is a great motivator behind healthy curiosity - behind our seeking and finding.
These passages are just a few of MANY references to this relationship between seeking and finding.
In each instance, God speaks collectively to humanity, (even while specifically in those recorded moments), that He desires to be sought out. That He loves those who seek Him out. Just like a lover desires to be sought after. Like a good Father or Mother delights in their kids seeking them out. But He promises, He can be found, if He is sought after. This is what experience with Jesus is like.
It's not abstract, it is a relationship. It's not about what you hate. It's about who you love.
No person in a relationship studies their significant other, or friend, or son, daughter, father, or mother like an academic textbook or petri dish subject. They are not a curriculum to make your way through, they are a loved one to be loved - a person to be experienced.
On one hand, seeing God in the world around us, is not that hard if we look for Him. However, experiencing Jesus, (God's son, who lived and died that humanity might have an abundant life), is something you are going to need to invest a little time in, just as you invest in those you love.
Jesus shared in yet another parable, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field."
Nothing creates that kind of excitement more than "an experience". Experiencing Jesus is like experiencing that treasure.
So what! Now what?
You might be thinking, okay - sooooooo, so experiencing Jesus is like "securing the bag"? Well, not exactly. Jesus is not something to be worked for, from an earnings perspective. He is, as alluded to earlier, someone to be sought out. He is a WAY as much as He is the prize, just like finding the person you've been looking for is something to be cherished, you can only cherish someone you are walking with in some way and pursuing an ongoing relationship with.
In a healthy relationship, the one you love is not 'alone', but they are surrounded by a loving community of friends. So it can be said, that to experience your loved one, is to experience their family ... their friends ... their community.
And so it is in a healthy relationship with Jesus. Once you have been introduced to Jesus and seek relationship with Him, you will naturally, (or supernaturally), begin to bump into others who share your affinity and love for this Jesus. Sometimes this will happen in the context of a local church, but other times it will take place within His global Church - which is not bound by white walls or skinny jeans or religion gone wild.
At Discovery Church, it is our desire to put "death to religion" so that you can seek and find and "experience Jesus" right here within our community.
Not sure you buy it all just yet? Still "curious"? Then watch for our next installment of this blog about "living to rescue". We think you'll find it worth your while. Until then, stay curious, friends...