Dear, Desperately Seeking...
Earlier this week I received an email with a subject line reading, Desperately Seeking… I have received several emails in the last weeks like this one; full of questions about God and life and so, I posted this article with the questions and my response.
Good morning Jason,
I was introduced to your podcast by a mutual friend, _______, and I am absolutely loving it. However, I am more confused now than I was before I started and the questions are relentless as well as never-ending.
I will forewarn you this email will be abundant with questions…
Here goes nothing…
Why do we believe the Bible, how do you view and read the Bible, why are there so many different religions that seem to have similar ideas, do you believe in hell, what is it, who goes there, why do some oppose your ideas and why don’t they see it the same way, who’s right, who’s wrong, what and who should I believe. How about psychics who believe in Jesus, aren’t they similar to prophets, what’s the difference, how about the LGBTQ community, are they sinners and why aren’t they included in the kingdom, and the list goes on and on…
My apologies in advance for the questions, but I’m a seeker and need help with the answers, so I thought it best to go to the source. I belong to a non-denominational church that believes in heaven and hell and that no one can get to the Father except through Jesus and if you don’t (believe this), you are not saved. Those are the people who go to hell.
I love my church and my church family, and a lot of what they preach makes sense, but on the other hand, not so much.
I am grateful for your podcast and raising these questions, but I would love nothing more than guidance and direction to find the answers.
P.S. I am in the middle of reading your book, God Is Not In Control and it’s helping.
Hey, _______. Great to meet you!
I love your pursuit of understanding, your search for Truth!
I have had many a conversation with folks over the years, fellow travelers who are chasing down the love of God, freedom, trust, and fulfillment. It’s good to be on the journey with you.
First, this isn’t an “answers” response, I don’t know that I could answer all your questions or that my answers would satisfy you if I could.
This is an, “I’m on the faith journey with you,” response.
Second, I think there are lots of great conversations on our podcast and great books written by the guests that would be helpful (as you have already mentioned). But as that is already available, I thought I’d share how I personally navigate the questions in my own life in hopes that will encourage.
I am convinced God is love, always good, looks like Jesus, and my only responsibility in this life is to grow surer in His love.
All my faith (belief/trust when I don’t have an answer) is placed in the perfection of Love; specifically, the self-giving love revealed by Jesus on a cross.
Any answers I do get along the way, or any resets of my theological thinking, have been the fruit of this one conviction.
God is love, always good (looks like Jesus reconciling the world) and I exist to grow sure.
This has empowered me to live often without answers to my questions. Or at least, without immediate answers.
The phrase I often use on the podcast, “I don’t know, but God is good,” is not just a clever statement of faith for me, it has often been a life and death statement of trust; especially when life’s disappointments, sorrows, and trials, or the anger and fear of peoples hate, weighs me down.
I am convinced God is love, always good, and my only responsibility is to grow sure in His affection. And I have learned that love is the long game, that all questions are answered, over time, through a greater revelation.
With that as my foundational starting place, my only certainty, and in light of some of your questions, I have learned that…
– over time, I can greatly value and read scripture without fear of finding an angry, disappointed, or condemning God within its pages. Instead, I have discovered Jesus in its pages. Because of my certainty, I am discovering a reconciling love that confronts any interpretation that is not about reconciliation. Along the way, God has introduced me to amazing friends, fathers and mothers, forefathers, and foremothers, who also approach scripture through the hermeneutic of Jesus and reconciling love.
– over time, I can trust that Jesus is able to step inside any belief system and reveal Himself; He is able to communicate His love in the language of our understanding. Therefore I don’t have to defend him, I can simply further discover and trust He is revealing Himself through me and His creation.
– over time, I can look at doctrines on subjects that once unsettled me, like eternal conscious torment, and discover God isn’t punitive, nor is He restricted by time and space, and nothing separates us from his love. Therefore I can live confident that hell isn’t some form of cosmic punishment. The more personally sure I am in the perfection of Jesus’ love, the more I discover God is reconciling all things, and while I may not know the answers to what happens after we die, I can be sure nonetheless in the perfection of Gods nature to work all things into good.
– over time, I can discover that I am not playing the “right or wrong” game, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the dualistic thinking game, No, I am playing the self-giving love game, the union game, the oneness, intimate confident hope game.
– over time, I can recognize what is true regardless of the systems, or the beliefs through which it is presented. Self-giving love is what is true, it is pure. Self-giving love cannot be confused or compromised, it is life and wholeness and righteousness itself. Self-giving love is the measureless revelation by which everything is measured.
– over time, I can love people regardless of how they identify. In Christ, I am not sin conscious, I am Jesus (reconciling, transforming, redeeming, freeing, love) conscious.
These thoughts may feel unsatisfying, naive, or even not fully developed, but my heart is you would daily discover the perfection of how He feels about you. I am convinced this will settle every desperation you feel. And along the way, you will discover life-giving answers.
As to knowledge, keep learning from those who are confident in the reconciling nature of love. I would recommend those we’ve had on the podcast, but I am especially fond of my dad, Lloyd Clark, Baxter Kruger, Brad Jersak, and Francis du Toit.
Jason Clark is an NYTimes Bestselling storyteller who writes to reveal the transforming kindness of the love of God in a world traumatized by the religious abuses done in the name of the love of God. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children, Madeleine, Ethan, and Eva.
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