I lead a small group at my church. I call them the "council of the wise." I bring them questions and they give me answers, lots of answers. I really appreciate them for that. The question today was this:
"For a person who has been a churchgoer all of his or her life, what would have to happen for that person to become a seeker again?"
Here are their answers:
1. System of faith fails.
2. A crisis.
3. A step by step process.
4. See the person who taught you your faith fall.
5. Develop a relationship with a person who you once thought was lost because they were not the same kind of Christian you are.
6. Develop a relationship with a "non-Christian."
7. My own answer was that it would take an "agonizing process."
I really like their answers. I believe they "got" my question. I then asked them this question:
"Is happiness a barrier to seeking God?"
The council of the wise was divided on this matter and had a good debate on it.
It can be, but does not have to be. The longer one is happy, the more challenging it is to think that anything needs to be different. "People think themselves to good," says C. S. Lewis, "when they are only happy."
I was programmed to believe that salvation from the fires of Hell was my ultimate destination, reason for living, and the end of all things. I was programmed with a virus. Yes, there is motivation in it and it certainly is a powerful motivation. BUT (and this is a big but), what motivation is there when youâ€™ve arrived? Since I didnâ€™t have the luxury of a "once saved; always saved" theology to fall back on, I was abused (almost a hyperbole) by the "get saved; stay saved" theology of guilt motivation and shame-based spiritual formation. So, my desperation was not so much in seeking God, for I had found Him, but rather in holding on the to waters of my baptism.
So, there was nothing seeker oriented in how I was raised. I mean really, seek what? I was saved. All I needed to do was be moral enough to stay saved. "You got it, but I wonder if you can keep it?" was the message I got from my church culture.
The only way (in that church system) to get beyond this was to become a Pharisee. If I were to take hold of certain places of power and authority, then and only then would I be relived on my guilt because in the attainment of certain offices in the church I would be able to be the teacher, the learned as opposed to the learning. I would have arrived again. No one would throw me into doubt with questions for I would be the questioner.
Now, this is no longer my challenge. I am not longer ruled by that church system. I am secure in my faith. My problem now is being too satisfied with my "salvation." Just a "fat and happy" Christian going to the spiritual mall to consume some more of the good stuff.
There is something seriously wrong if taking comfort in salvation removes my desire for seeking God. Yet, the relief of knowing Hell is not my eternity has done something to me, something very, very bad!!! Now, rather than fight my own guilt, I am fighting my own satisfaction. You tell me which is more difficult. Is it the bully of guilt or the deception of the backstabbing best friend?
If you have been reading my posts on "Post-Restoration Hope" you might not believe what I am about to say, but I am a sucker for settling for "church as usual." I am a creature of habit. Donâ€™t mess with my habits! I want to know what is happening, what is going to happen and I want it to be the same always. I lose a day of equilibrium when the furniture in my house gets moved. So, when I say that my enemy to fight is satisfaction, I am not talking about some namby-pamby, flimsy little battle. This is a challenge of heroic proportions.
I am at risk, as C. S. Lewis says, of being "only happy."
But God is good. I have had the benefit, however, of experiencing a church split and much church tension. I have been exposed to a variety of different faiths, and non-faiths. I have see leaders fall. I have seen my faith system come apart. I have experienced every single thing the council of the wise told me about and then some. For this, I see there is a God who loves me enough to do (allow, set up, whatever) whatever it takes not to let my faith rot.
At the same time I have not had the untimely loss of a loved one, significant health issues, lost my home or belongings or job, Iâ€™ve not been cheated on and on and on. For this, I see there is a God who loves me enough to do (allow, set up, whatever) whatever it takes not to let my faith rot.
I want to be a seeker of God!