Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finding a Pursuit of God

A friend posted a quote that he had heard in a lecture from the Bible Study Fellowship:
"It is cool in our culture to be looking for God. It is not cool, however, to find Him."
Setting aside the statement's assumption of a normative (assumingly North American) cultural value in seeking spiritual enlightenment, the issue centers on a post-modern understanding of whether any declarative statement can be made about anything. To the post-modern, there is an infinite variable in personal subjectivity. This is a starting assumption, so to attempt to communicate with a po-mo (like me) without recognizing this is only going to cause headaches. (Lectures about objectivity and absolute truth? That is your perspective. Your conclusions do not necessarily affect mine.)

My thought, upon reading this quote, is simply, what would we do once we found him?

One of the books beneficial to my development is a small work by Philips, Your God is Too Small. In the first half, he examines popular images of God-- the policemen, the parent, the vague supernatural force, etc. In the second, he begins to develop a description of a God big enough to incorporate the image he reads in Scripture and big enough for our lived reality.

If God is ever found, there is a finality to Him that limits his relevance to our life. There is a wide unknown to me, as the world has changed so much even within my lifetime (cell phones? Internet? Blogs?) and emerging global realities will continue to shape my perspective of the world. If God can be entirely known by me, then he is simply a superman projection of my own self. Philips elaborates on this more effectively, but I know myself too well to ascribe my own self to God's character.

I am also indebted to the influence of Lewis in showing me the use of imagination in developing a personal theology. I have fond memories of pop reading Lewis to me, and as an adult I found a new appreciation for his work.

In speaking of Aslan, often allegorized as God/Christ, there is frequent reference to his wildness. In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy,

"He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."

And again in The Last Battle (amazing eschatological implications):

"Do you think I keep him in my wallet, fools?" said Tirian. "Who am I that I could make Aslan appear at my bidding? He's not a tame lion."

A false image of God presented in modernity is that he is easily found. Read your Bible and you will understand God, some might say. But a God easily found is one not easily loved, as relationship grows by the pursuit. Life, then, could be viewed as a courtship with God, rather than a life of domesticity.

But the image of God I see revealed in Christ and scripture is one of relentless pursuit. A god who makes, keeps, and renews covenant is one as set apart from the pantheon of the Ancient Near East as it is from our current pantheon of powers. So if it is cool for our culture to be in pursuit of God, how pertinent an image of God who is also in pursuit of us.


  1. Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  2. i think sometimes that we can place too much on the "God is undiscoverable" concept and not enough on the fact that God keeps trying to reveal himself to us. we can't know everything about God, but i think God wants us to know more about him than we give him credit for. it wouldn't surprise me if we probably pull ourselves back from exploring too deep out of reverence, making sure we don't presume to know too much in case we cross a line or suggest that he's predictable.

    but i would posit that we will only know as much as he wants us to know about him (much in the same way as most of us hold some deep dark secret that we people won't ever know - not that God has dark secrets), and that in many ways he is truly predictable. as Sonnenberg once said for example, God is a sucker for repenters. it is the predictability, now that i think about it, that makes him so reliable and faithful.

    i know at some point we all have to throw our hands up and say, "i just don't understand. that's too far above me." but as much as possible we should work as hard as we can to understand everything we can about him. in contrast to some people's ways of thinking, i think God is actually encouraged by this sort of pursuit, not offended.