For as long as I can remember, I have been a curious person.
My earliest memory is getting out of our car and walking over a huge berm that separated the gravel church parking lot (okay maybe it wasn’t huge but I was just a young boy so to me it was). My brothers were really annoyed with me because I kept asking my dad all sorts of questions about why or how and so on. I vividly remember one of them telling me to “shut up.” I don’t remember exactly how my father responded but essentially it was “leave him be, we learn by asking lots of questions.” This, of course, led me to ask even more questions both because I was curious and because I saw it annoyed my siblings!
I think curiosity is an important discipline that stops life from being boring or mundane. It fills life with wonder and excitement. Someone who is curious can never be apathetic and if you know me, I am anything but apathetic. Curiosity drives me. I want to know why and how and so what.
For that reason alone I really enjoyed The Curious Christian by Barnabas Piper. This book challenges you to be curious about everything and anything and make the most of your God-given life. Throughout the book, he challenges us to beware of just knowledge for the sake of knowledge or facts for the sake of facts. Instead, we must lean into what we see, hear, read, and learn and turn it upside down and inside out and really consider “so what?” He writes, “It is a sad, even sinful, thing to waste knowledge of any kind, but it is infinitely more sad and sinful to collect knowledge of the living God and for it to have no impact on us.” (pg. 71-72). Or again, “My greatest risk in reading is that I will collect knowledge but do not act on it, that I will become a card catalog of knowledge instead of being intent on bringing my curiosity to bear in the world” (pg. 87). And again, “We have an almost immeasurable capacity to take right beliefs and turn them into no actions. we are superheroes at knowing exactly what to do and not doing it.” (pg. 132).
That’s challenging stuff. But what really intrigued me was a connection Piper draws between curiosity and discipleship that I have never considered before. He writes:
“Jesus calls his followers to be in the world as he was, but not of the world. We are to be of his kingdom, defined by it and living according to its standards.
We are called to go into all the world and make disciples.
We are called to be all things to all people.
We are called to be shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves.
We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
But how in the world can we do these things if we are not in the world? How can we know our neighbors unless we move into the neighborhood? Or connect with people or learn cultures or be shrewd or be all things without being close enough and invested enough to learn what those things are? We cannot without being curious. Curiosity is a primary tool for fulfilling the mission of Christ. Without it we are distant from and clueless about those who need Jesus most. – pg. 115
What a great thought!
I love it!
So often Christians resemble thick-walled castles with deep, crocodile-infested moats surrounding them. Curiosity gets us out of our cloistered lives. It lets the drawbridge down. It helps us connect with those God has placed in our lives. It turns us outward. It opens up lines of communication. It enables us to get to know our neighbors and love them with the love of Christ. It helps us be “in the world but not of it.” Like Barnabas writes, “Curiosity is a primary tool for fulling the mission of Christ.”
So Christian friend, let’s use this tool. Cultivate it. Sharpen it. Faithfully employ it to get to know your neighbors and love them. Let’s use it to multiply disciples of Jesus Christ all around the world!