Curiosity

For as long as I can remember, I have been a curious person.

Seriously.

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!

 

The Only Attraction is God

A. W. Tozer writes in Man: The Dwelling Place of God:

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture designed to house the golden calf.

So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

Any objection to the carryings-on of our present golden calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, ‘But we are winning them!’ And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total commitment to Christ? Of course, the answer to all these questions is ‘no.’

Others May, You Cannot

The following was written byGeorge D. Watson, a Wesleyan minister who did the bulk of his ministry in the early 20th century. It is very profound and humbling.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Matthew 16:24-25 – If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.