If you want to freak out your Protestant parents when you are fourteen years old, simply start reading the Book of Mormon, the Quran, and books on Siddhartha Guatama. My parents were cautiously quiet about my selected reading as a professing Christian, but I am confident it worried them. Even more troublesome to them was my interacting with the occasional “other faith” visitors to our front door.
At fourteen years old I was far from fully prepared to absorb and understand all I was looking into, but I had begun my life as a seeker.
Os Guinness in his book, “The Long Journey Home” uses words to describe it I only wish I had at 14, “To seek is therefore to long to love, and to direct one’s desire and love to an object through which, in possessing it, one expects to become happy. Seeking is loving, which becomes desiring, which becomes possessing, which becomes happiness….Greatest happiness comes is possessing the greatest good.”
I take seriously Jesus statement, “Seek and ye shall find.” (Matthew 7:7, Jeremiah 29:13)
Another statement in my life that I take seriously is, “I don’t want other people thinking for me.” I will listen and consider what they say, but it is my responsibility to take and weigh the information to discover what is, “true truth”. I determined as a young man that if there are no absolutes, there is nothing of value; therefore, I want to know and understand the absolutes.
The seeking life is not an easy one. A seeker many times feels alone in the world.
Seekers want answers, must be careful about their guides, must be thoughtful about their conclusions, conclusions that will then create more questions.
The seeker wants to know truth, but a true seeker has to be willing to conform his life once it is discovered, otherwise he is simply a walking lifelong skeptic and will die the worse death, death without truth – life without meaning.
“The strategy of conforming the truth to our desires, although easier in the short term is harder in the long. Conversely, the decision to conform our desires to the truth is harder in the short term but easier in the long,” writes Os Guinness. A seeker knows that this is not about conforming the truth to him, for me, that’s a definition of great stupidity. A search will reveal there is no, “However” or “on the other hand”. Paradoxes yes, but no “buts”.
Seekers are cautious about what they spend time on, and with whom they spend time. Prophets without experience are quickly dismissed as well as prophets who do not match their prophecies. Bonheoffer, Socrates, Wilberforce, and Morehead lived out their words. Osteen, Platt, Robins, and Bell are simply thinking out loud. “Neither Christ nor Buddha nor Socrates wrote a book for to do that is to exchange life for a logical process,” states W.B. Yeats. The path must go beyond books into your vigorous thinking and living.
The seeker asks questions of those presenting ideas, and I have discovered the “keepers of ideas” don’t like to have questions asked of them. Worse, they are dismissive and unwilling to cultivate relationships with those that disagree.
In modern times, professional clergy are the worst at engaging in critical thinking and several of them have nearly pushed me to reject truth outright from their actions and attitudes toward seekers. Disturbing were responses such as, “You shouldn’t think about things like that,” or “You just need more faith,” or “Just believe,” or “You’re questions and comments are dangerous.”
"Are there good and solid reasons to believe what we've been asked to believe? If this question isn't answered- or worse not allowed- seekers may become believers, but they will always be vulnerable. We would be believing only because we need to believe - which at best is irrational and at worst dishonest." - Os Guinness
“Be still and know that I am God” is far from a call to blind faith. It is a call to quiet thinking and seeking in order to “know” (Psalms 46:10).
To turn to Christ does not end the search for a Christian. There is so vast a universe of His truth yet to discover. Clergy are boldly ignorant to philosophy, science, math, psychology, finance, sociology, history, politics, and beyond. Worse, unaware how other people think outside their circles, or even what it means to be a Christian living everyday life in the world.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,” (2 Peter 1:5)
Most professional clergy, not all, are dismissive, arrogant and wouldn’t know the difference between discipleship from a literal ship. I’ve discovered as a seeker that you will get little help from them. The good news is what you are seeking they are not the sole key holders.
Seeking demands hard work, careful selection of guides, and a belief that there is a truth to be found. In the hard effort of seeking there are many stumbling blocks of “half truths” and that which is “false”.
Modern philosopher Michel Foucault famously concluded, “There are no answers.” This is a seeker’s doom. With this “belief” his life spun into chaos and extremes. His poor search left him with just sex as his ultimate happiness. So in the 80’s his happiness was to, as he stated, “Die for the love of boys.” - Which he did.
"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less." - Vaclav Havel (Letters to Olga - 1980)
Most people are not seekers. They have made a decision about life that was conscious or unconscious and then they move through daily patterns with great predictability numbed to thinking by daily tasks, entertainment, or intoxication. You will find the sources for their conclusions few and their ability to articulate why shallow.
When I ask my peers or young men to read something I usual get answers like, “I don’t have time,” or “I don’t like to read,” or “It’s not necessary because I think…” There is little chance these people will ever discover the great answers. “Modern man is drinking or drugging himself out of awareness or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing,” writes psychologist Ernest Becker.
I am amazed at the programmed lives of some. For me Emily Dickinson said it best, “To live is so startling it leaves but little room for other occupations.”
I say to hell with the trivial!
As a seeker, I despise: malls, cable TV, watching people play sports, board games, self-help books, pundits, and anything else that will rob me of good conversations, epic experiences, deeper affections, greater conviction, and fruitful endeavors.
At fourteen I believed the words of Jesus, as His words matched what I saw in the universe. There was no more compelling answer to everything, than Him.
As an adult I got sucked into “just living” and in my thirties re-awoke to the seekers life. I reexamined the worldviews again with an adult mind and with greater research, conversations, and meditation and once again affirmed that Jesus is the answer to everything. All the other worldviews don’t align with reality or provide sufficient answers to our origins, the vastness of the universe, the problem with suffering, and the realities of life. Christianity holds the answers we seek and Jesus is the most amazing and beautiful person, God, Truth I have ever known.
On the conclusions of Christ my seeking life is only amplified. He opens up the doors of faith, philosophy, science, psychology, math, history, sociology, business and self and says, ”Seek!” As we seek he warns us to be on the look out for false teaching, self-ambitious liars, and even our own self.
If you are a seeker I encourage you to read Os Guinness Book, “Long Journey Home”. It will encourage and comfort you. If you have never sought, it will spark your soul to seek.
I discovered the foundations of the Universe on my journey home and now I am seeking more answers to my ever-expanding questions, knowing there are absolute answers to be found by seekers.
“Silent you stand before the alter of death! Life here and life after constitutes an eternal conundrum; but its expiring spark awakens us to holy devotion and quiets every other voice except that of religion. Eternity has the floor,” Alfred Nobel