On breaking out of the cocoon: the finding is in the seeking.

The evangelical Christianity that I am familiar with is one obsessed with destinations. For example, the correct understanding of God is my understanding of God. The correct interpretation of Scripture is my understanding of Scripture. To put it simply, Christianity as I’ve known it has had a strange obsession with having it all figured out. If you seek long and hard enough then you will find. If you ask then you will receive. If you knock then the door will be opened. This all assumes that one can reach out and grasp God and nail Him down (pardon the pun) in order to study and know Him like scientists might do with a butterfly.

One of the problems I see with this is that those who are seeking are understood as having not-yet found while those in-the-know have already found.

Matthew tells us that Jesus said the following: “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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened,” (Mt. 7:7-8).

Like I’ve alluded to, in my experience of Christianity the western evangelical church has talked about God in such a way that if you seek Him you will find Him. However, we can never fully grasp God because He is Wholly Other than we are. Peter Rollins gives the example of a ship sinking in the sea. While the ship contains the sea it does not contain all of the sea but is consumed entirely by the sea. The ship only contains a tiny fraction of sea. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that we can’t ever arrive at a place where we can claim to know God and contain Him within our thoughts.

Let us look once more then to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7. Generally I’ve heard it taught that seeking leads to finding, asking leads to receiving and knocking leads to opening. These are seen as two separate moments. Seeking being one moment and finding another. However, perhaps this passage can be understood another way. What if rather than being two separate moments ‘seeking’ and ‘finding’ occur at one and the same time. What if seeking is finding? What if asking is receiving? What if knocking on the door is having it opened?

May we let go of our desire to have it all figured out. Let us refuse to settle at a particular destination realizing that God passionately grasps us and not visa-versa. May we realize that when we seek we find because seeking is finding. For as Rollins put it, “Rather than desire being fulfilled in the presence of God, religious desire is born there. In short, a true spiritual seeking can be understood as the ultimate sign that one already has that which one seeks, or rather, that one is already grasped by that which one seeks to grasp. Consequently a genuine seeking after God is evidence of having found…In this way the lovers of God are the ones who are most passionately in search of God,” (53).

Seek on friends, seek on!

  1. I always found that passage interesting because it never explains what we find, or what we recieve, or where the door opens to. Perhaps these thing are more complicated than the “seven steps to [fill in the blank]” or whatever else the western evangelical church is offering.

  2. jt* said:

    My guess would be yes, most things are probably more complex than presented by the western evangelical church (generally speaking). I guess one of the things that irks me the most is that we’re so quick to assume we are beacons of truth as opposed to a community that is being shaped by the Truth. Much of the Christianity that I grew up in seeks to grasp God emphasizing their interpretation as *the* interpretation of God. All the while failing to realize that our language cannot contain God. God is known yes, but it seems that He is known *as* unknown. At any rate, I think the evangelical Church would be healthier if we sought to be grasped by God rather than the other way around.

    ps – I really dig the new look of your blog. Nice!

  3. Thanks. yeah. I worked on that for a while in October. I do think that we are going in the right direction, and that Pete Rollins will definitely be more accepted in what I refer to as the “second generation” of emergents (which will probably be a more mainstream movement). Read my latest posts for more thoughts on this.

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