Jesus: A Friend of Seekers
In the twentieth century American evangelical church, a phenomenon developed known as, “the seeker sensitive” church, with a “seeker sensitive” worship service. The argument was made to make church, and church life, as accommodating to unbelievers as possible.
The belief was, through assimilation, church attendees would feel more comfortable with church, and would more readily choose Jesus Christ to be their Savior. We, of course, must ask whether men are actually seeking after God or not? The seeker sensitive approach presumes men are seeking after God and simply need to gather enough information from church to make a rationale decision to accept Jesus as their Savior.
The Lord looks down from heaven to see if there is anyone who seeks after God (Ps 14:2). Because God is omniscient, it is reasonable for us to interpret this, “God came down to show us what we are really like and help us to draw the right conclusion.” Paul argued, “There is none who seeks after God (Rom 3:11).” This must be our premise, but why do people not seek after God?
Pride is the cause of man’s disinterest in God. The wicked in their haughtiness do not seek God (Ps 10:4), even though God does not forsake those who seek Him (Ps 9:10). So why is there a disconnection between the idea of no one seeking God and Him rewarding those who seek Him? The resolution to the problem paradox is salvation. Salvation is far from the wicked because they do not seek God’s law or righteousness (Ps 119:155), yet salvation belongs to God (Jon 2:9). Thus, salvation is a gift of God to undeserving people (Eph 2:8–9). If men are not really looking for salvation, then what do they seek?
Gentiles eagerly seek after the base things (Mt 6:31–32). They seek after their own interests and not the interests of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:21). Peter once fell into this trap, and Jesus called him, “Satan” (Mt 16:23). The Jews seek for their own righteousness (Rom 10:3), but Israel did not find what it was seeking (Rom 11:7). Legalists always seek to be justified by the Law (Gal 4:17).
The crux of man’s problem is his desire to want to control God. He wants God to give him good things, and he wants God to bless his worldly agenda. Instead of praying and waiting on God, man brings his agenda items to the committee meeting. He wants his own will to be done, with or without God. In other words, if God will help us, we will seek Him for our own ends. How then does a sinful man operate in communication with God?
An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign (Mt 16:4). This was true of the Pharisees (Mk 8:11–12). They could not accept Jesus at His Word but were seeking to kill Him because He made Himself out to be equal with God (Jn 5:18). The Pharisees wanted communication from God, to approve their political agenda, but when God came to them in the flesh, they did not recognize Him (Jn 1:5). The Pharisees were not happy with Jesus, and Jesus was not happy with the Pharisees.
Chief priests and scribes were seeking to destroy Jesus (Mk 11:18), even as Judas Iscariot was seeking to betray Him (Mk 14:11). The religious leaders wanted stable power, money, and control of the system they were trying to build and maintain. Men build their kingdoms, and it does not matter what size of kingdom they try to build. Judas was nothing, but he wanted to be something. Today, he has one of the most notorious names in all of history. We could say, “Judas made a name for himself.” That is nothing new under the sun (Gen 11; Eccl 1:9).
The common people were no less ambitious than their leaders. Crowds, fed by Jesus, would seek Him for more free lunches (Jn 6:24–26). The heart of the problem with humanity is the problem of the human heart (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9). Man is naturally sinful and selfish. He puts himself before others. Whether it is a free meal or a crown, man is in it for himself.
John 7 consists of a diatribe between Jesus and the Jewish leaders at one Passover. Jesus knew what they were seeking, and He told them plainly what He was seeking. The contrast is stark. The principle of seeking is captured in John 7:18, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jesus had already charged the Jews with seeking glory from one another and not the glory of God (Jn 5:44).
Now one might argue for the universal problem of man seeking his own interests. They might suggest, “Some of Jesus’ earliest disciples were seeking Jesus (Jn 1:38).” Jesus later told His disciples the truth about each of their first encounters with Him, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear much fruit (Jn 15:16).” He was seeking them.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but God searches the heart. Only Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men (Jn 2:23), and God’s assessment is sure, “The heart is more deceitful than all else. It is desperately sick. Who can understand?” (Jer 17:9). What about the heart of Jesus? What was He seeking? Jesus was seeking to do the will of His Father (Jn 5:30), and the will of the Father was to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel and from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9).
God the Father seeks true worshipers, who will worship Him in Spirit and truth (Jn 4:23). This is His agenda for us. God is filling heaven with renovated people, whom He sanctified and glorified. We have already seen how this is not man’s agenda, not even those who would claim to be seekers of God. Rather, God tells us, “I was found by those who did not seek Me (Rom 10:20).”
Jews were seeking the Word of the prophets, doing a careful search to try and discern the time of Messiah’s coming (1 Pet 1:10–12). It is good for people to read the Bible, but if the Word of God does not radically transform their hearts and minds, it is a futile exercise. The Jews were searching the Scriptures because they believed salvation to be in the Bible, but the fatal flaw in their pursuit was their unwillingness to surrender their lives to Jesus, the living Word.
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls (Mt 13:45). The wise merchant will sell things of lesser value in order to get something of greater value for a good price. God says, “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost (Is 55:1).” Seek God. Seek first His kingdom. Seek the kingdom on His terms. This is what man will not do…even if it is free!
We want our own kingdoms, which Satan has promised us. We want to build them our own way, and if God will not help us get what we want, Satan has promised to help us. In other words, man does not value the kingdom of God, and so he will not trade what he has in this world for what God has for him in the next. You must lose your life in this world, which means you must hate your life in this world. Most men love their lives, and they love the world too much to do business with God. Why then do some people appear to be seeking Christ, who is God?
God’s Word does confirm there is a people who seek Him, “Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for My people who seek Me (Is 65:10). What has happened to these people to make them distinguishable from the other men we have been learning about? Paul helps us, “If you have been raised up, keep seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand (Col 3:1).” Note Paul’s condition, “If you have been raised up.” This is the difference.
Too many in churches today think they are the deciders of their salvation. According to Jesus, men must be dragged (Gk. elkuse) to Him (Jn 6:44). Once we stop kicking against the goads, we delight in our baptism. We have died with Christ, been buried with Christ, and raised up with Christ (Rom 6). Paul said, “If this happened to you, then keep seeking the things above.” True seekers are not self-generating rational decision makers. They have been made by God to be seekers.
Disciples should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing the base things will be added unto them (Mt 6:33). Be anxious for nothing. We need to seek God in prayer, in Bible reading, in worship, and recognize we are being tested in our relationships with others in the world. We should always seek what is good for other people inside and outside the church (1 Thess 5:15). This is the antithesis of selfish living. Paul wrote to the generous Macedonians, “I do not seek what is yours” (2 Cor 12:14).” He was not there to rob them of their money, as so many false teachers do in the church, today.
Jesus encouraged His disciples to seek God for what they felt they were lacking, and His promise was that they would find it (Mt 7:7–8). God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him by faith (Heb 11:6). This is true for everything. Paul did not seek the gift from the Macedonians, but the profit that would come to their account (Phil 4:17). You should seek to abound for others (1 Cor 10:24; 10:33; 13:5) and the church (1 Cor 14:12). People of faith seek a better country (Heb 11:14), a lasting city which is to come (Heb 13:14). We pray, “Give me less of this world and more of the next!”
Therefore, there are some other important things for Christians to seek. What should you seek? You should seek peace and pursue it, turning from evil to do good (1 Pet 3:11). Seek for glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life (Rom 2:7), but do not seek glory from men (1 Thess 2:6) because they cannot give these better things. Paul did not seek for men’s approval (Gal 1:10), even when they, like the Corinthians, were seeking for proof of Christ in Paul (2 Cor 13:3). Paul knew the One He served, and he served Him with his whole life.
Jesus is a friend of seekers; but when there were no seekers, His Father appointed some to come to Jesus (Jn 6:37, 44, 65). These will confess there were some birth pangs in being dragged to Christ, but their disposition is completely changed. Where they had no interest in Jesus, now their interest is in what interests Him. Yes, Christian, we must be sensitive to the existence of seekers, but seekers are the ones who have already been sought and found by the Good Shepherd. We seek Jesus because He first sought us.
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 23, 2021