Thursday, February 22, 2007

How does one find God? An open letter to a friend of my daughter

There are lots of resources out there that can help answer your question; this is my rather scattered addition, and it's all about the God of the Bible. Why not some other religious tradition? I address that in another posting.

You are asking a great and important question. Simply by asking, you've taken a step toward God that many have not. The question is both simple and complex. Here are a few thoughts.

God, our creator, wants to be found and known by us. Good thing, too, because as created beings we're as powerless to find God as Frodo was to find Tolkien. Unlike Tolkien, God entered the human story in the form of Jesus of Nazareth....

One method of finding God is to read what Jesus said, act like it's a command from God, and try to obey. Start somewhere in Matthew 5 for example; read a little, and put it into practice. Ask God for help, as though you believed he were actually there. Ask him to reveal himself to you. In doing that you'll be exercising faith, which is an important component of both finding and pleasing God.

If God can in fact be found, as I believe he can, there is nothing more important in life than to find him; the search is worth our full attention and highest priority.

How does one approach God? Many of us approach God (and the Bible too) as though we were historians and God were merely a historical phenomenon or a chemical reaction. That's one approach, which works with limited success. We can approach him as a little child approaches Santa Claus, as a cancer patient approaches an oncologist, as a woman approaches a man she's considering as a possible husband. Or how about this? as a criminal approaches a judge -- a judge with a reputation for justice and mercy both.

Or... as a king. When I was your age (sorry, can't help it) I thought I could approach God as I approached a mathematical conjecture. Could it be proven? Then it would be (or become) a theorem. That didn't work very well. One does not find a girlfriend in that manner, either.

A few random Bible quotes on this topic:
  • Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his thoughts and the unrighteous man his ways, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55)
  • You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart. (Jeremiah 29)
  • There is none who seeks for God. (Romans 3) [Therefore,] "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him." (John 6)
  • Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11)

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