On Finding God for Yourself

The idea of finding God "for yourself"--meaning, in ways you choose, at times and places meaningful or convenient to you, or in bits and pieces that reinforce your own personal narrative--means that any God you find will most likely not be the God who revealed himself in Jesus.

I say "most likely," because God can and does work in surprising and happy ways. But if Jesus' life means anything at all, it is that God has once and for all made the ultimate self-disclosure. He came to us in our likeness but not on our terms; he made himself available to us as a freely offered (and so rejectable) gift, but not the sort of gift we can freely customize, choosing which features we like or need and excluding the ones we don't. 

I can't do that with my wife, because she is a real, knowable person, and since I married her it is now my obligation to spend the rest of my life learning to love and know all parts of her. It is possible for me to be mistaken about her; it is not possible for me to tell her who she should be, or to try and change her.

Jesus, too, is a real, knowable person, if his resurrection means anything at all. And so this means it is possible to be mistaken about him. This also means it is possible that the terms on which we come to know him have nothing to do with terms we might prefer or choose if given the choice.

Setting out to find God "for yourself" means, most likely, that at the end of the day you will find more of yourself, and less of God. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on whether or not Jesus is in fact the full revelation of God, and whether he was really raised from the dead.