These days, it’s cool to look for God—just as long as you don’t find him.
Today, our culture is all about “being spiritual, but not religious;” all about eternally seeking the Divine, but never claiming to have “found God.” The answer, we’re told, is to just keep asking the questions. From movie stars to academics to corporate gurus, the wisdom du jour tells us that, when it comes to spiritual things, the journey is important—not the destination. We value having the conversation, not reaching any conclusions. Looking within ourselves, not without. We’re into doubt, not certainty. In fact, if you think you really know something about God, you’re doing it wrong.
Churches have even begun to echo this spiritual fad. We’ve moved beyond the dogmatism and exclusive religious claims of ages past, and into a more flexible, organic spirituality—one more suited for today’s world. We’ve embraced the best aspects of the world’s faith traditions while rejecting the antiquated, narrow-minded elements of organized religion. After all, we tell ourselves, every religion teaches basically the same thing.
Yeah, we’ve spiritually evolved.
So, why are people feeling emptier than ever?
Maybe we’ve missed something. Something big.
Maybe we weren’t meant to float from spiritual fad to spiritual fad, patching together a god of our own design. Perhaps we were intended to land on some answers. Perhaps God created us with some destination in mind, not just an aimless journey. What if he intended for us to actually find him? If that were the case, would you want to know?
It may be trendy to focus entirely on the questions, the journey, and the conversation, but it’s certainly not new. The church father Tertullian (who was born in the year A.D. 160) dealt with the very same philosophy 1800 years ago. In one of his most well-known works, Tertullian described a group of very spiritual people who responded to the claims of Christianity by “always offering many topics for vain discussion,” moving from fad to fad without ever settling on truth. They wanted to claim Jesus and some of his teachings, but did not want any part of “organized religion.” Their Jesus would morph to their desires and whims.
So, how did Tertullian respond? By quoting the words of Christ: “Seek and you will find.” Jesus didn’t say, “Seek and you will continue seeking and journeying in your uncertainty for the rest of your life.” He said, “Seek and you will find.” Jesus came to offer a definitive answer to the problem of mankind. He came so that our seeking—our journey—would not have to amount to us wandering lost through a labyrinth while our lives pass us by.
Going back another 100 years, we find that today’s spiritual fads were popular even before the Bible was completed. In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul (born about the same time as Christ) had a famous exchange with the greatest philosophical minds of Athens. These men “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” They knew that Paul was an educated man and a well-known thinker, so they gave him the floor. What he told them blew their minds. No one could ignore Paul and what he said. Many laughed in his face. Others wanted to continue the conversation on a future day. A few were convinced and became followers of Paul. But no one just let it go.
What did Paul bring to the conversation that was so controversial? He suggested that we can truly know God. You see, Paul had walked around the city of Athens, looking at the hundreds of idols on display—every god you could possibly think of, including an altar “to the unknown god” (just in case they had missed one). Paul told these cutting-edge intellectual giants that he actually worshiped this unknown god, that he actually knew this god, and that this god was the One True God.
These men had expected Paul to say the same old thing: “Hey, we’ve all got an unknown god. Let’s do life together, seeking and seeking but never finding. And here are some more deep ideas to keep our minds occupied in the meantime.” Instead, he declared the Truth about the True God, a God who had revealed himself to men and women so that we would not need to go on living our lives lost in spiritual darkness and ignorance—so that our seeking could come to a head and we could actually find.
You have the same choice today. Will you scoff at the notion that your Creator has revealed himself, that he wants to be known? Or will you listen to the claims of Jesus Christ and consider whether you can truly know God?