One of God’s promises is that we will find him if we earnestly search him. We don’t presume to know everything you need to do to find the answers you’re searching, but we do have some suggestions that can help.
1. BE INTELLECTUALLY HONEST
Sometimes we claim to be searching, but our minds are not really open to what we might discover. Our attitude is, “Yeah, I’ll check it out, but I know it isn’t true.”
Being intellectually honest doesn’t mean that you turn your brain off. You need to evaluate different viewpoints and check out the facts for yourself. Being intellectually honest means you don’t go into the discovery process with your mind already made up. It means you remain open to what you might discover that differs from your preconceptions.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE FAIR
People search God for many different reasons. Some are trying to find meaning and purpose in life. Some are searching answers for their problems and pain. Still others are just looking for a relationship with God. But sometimes people search God with expectations that might not be fulfilled. For example, they want God to solve their problems immediately. That isn’t going to happen.
So, what will you do when you find God and still have to live with your problems? Sometimes people search God to experience more happiness in life. Followers of Jesus Christ do experience greater joy, meaning and purpose in life, but almost all believers will also report that they still have to deal with life’s circumstances. So, what will you do if you find God, but your life’s circumstances lead to less happiness?
Christianity never promises a problem-free life. God does, however, promise his power and presence to give us the ability to cope with the various difficulties and circumstances of life. So, two good questions to ask yourself are, What am I looking for? And what does God offer?
3. BE SURE NOT TO LIMIT GOD
Many people have claim an intellectual difficulty with Christianity, when reality is they are not willing to give up some activity that is offensive to God. That’s like saying “I want you to move into my house, but you can’t rearrange any of the furniture.” You need to understand that God is not just an idea. Christianity is not just a “belief system” that will enhance your life. God wants to be a powerful presence in your life. That means he will change you from the inside out. God loves you and will accept you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way. He wants to make you into what he wants you to be.
4. CHECK OUT THE BIBLE
Once you’ve made sure you’re being intellectually honest, and you’ve got a handle on what’s fair to expect, and you’re willing to let God change you however he wants to, the time has come to begin your search in earnest.
The place to start is the Bible. The Bible is a collection of 66 books, written by more than 40 authors, over a period of several hundred years. Christians believe that the Bible is God’s way of revealing himself and his truth to us. So any search for God has to include a search of the documents in which he reveals himself.
Here are some suggestions for you to keep in mind when you read the Bible. First, use a modern translation. Many times people say, “I’ve tried reading the Bible, but it was dry and hard to understand.” Many times that feeling has more to do with the translation being read than with the Bible itself. If you have a King James Bible, you’ll find that it’s full of “thees” and “thous” and “saiths.” When the King James version was translated in the early 1600’s, that’s how people talked. But our language has changed in the last 400 years, and we don’t talk that way today. We suggest the New International Version or the New Living Translation. If you don’t have an easy to read Bible, stop by the Lounge at New Horizon Church for a free New International Version Bible.
Second, when reading the Bible, you don’t read it like other books. As we said, the Bible is a collection of books, so it’s not really recommended that you start with page 1 and read through to the end. If you try that method, you’ll find it a little confusing. Instead, start with one of the 4 biographies of Jesus-the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John (we recommend starting with John). These books will give you a good understanding of the central figure of the entire Bible-Jesus Christ. After that, read the Book of James. It’s actually a short letter that will give you a good understanding of what the Christian life is supposed to look like. Then read the book of Acts. This book is the history of the beginning of the church. After that, you’re ready to go to the beginning, Genesis, where you’ll find answers to some of the fundamental questions of human existence. When you’ve read these books, you’re probably ready to jump in wherever you want.
5. COME TO TERMS WITH JESUS
Our fifth suggestion involves the focus of your search. We suggest you focus on Jesus because he is the heart and soul of Christianity. When we say “come to terms” with Jesus, we mean that it’s not enough to just agree that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, or a world-class religious leader. You have to come to terms with his identity. Jesus Christ was a man who walked the earth, lived a perfect life, died on a cross, and rose again from the dead. Those facts alone are enough to set Jesus apart from all other religious leaders past or present. But Jesus made another claim that no other religious leader has made-he claimed to be God. Buddha never made that claim, nor did Confucius or Mohammed. Only Jesus Christ claimed to be God in human form. Want to know more? Check out God’s purpose & plan for you.
6. FIND A CHURCH THAT INVITES QUESTIONS AND OFFERS COMMUNITY
Our final suggestion is to look for a church will welcome you as you search, as well as help you in the search process. They will welcome your questions and allow you to take your time in searching out the answers, without trying to push you into a premature decision. New Horizon is a church designed to help you in this way. Our Sunday worship gatherings are designed to present the truths of the Bible in a way that encourages believers, but also offers help and answers to those who are searching. We welcome your questions!