"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Curiosity and the Christ

By Micky Wolf

Curiosity may have killed the cat, even with the availability of nine lives. Nevertheless, seems well and good for humans to have a fair amount of curiousness as well—especially with regard to the Divine and what we generally term the spiritual. “Religion” provides a practical, knowledge-based theological and philosophical framework for understanding [limited as it is] our Triune God.  For Christians, the rest of the story is left to each of us in our personal and collective journey of discovering and developing meaningful relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Curiosity, apart from its feline associations, is something all of us have imbued within our hearts and spirits as children. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way—probably following too many experiences of physical pain or parental correction—we lost our interest in being curious. Why bother, we muse, the results are simply not worth it. 

There are only a few places in Scripture where the word curious or a similar derivation is used. In those instances we see both good and not so good consequences: Eve’s curiosity bore quite unpleasant results. Moses, on the other hand, experienced God amidst the burning bush in a way a less inquisitive person might have missed altogether. 

How intriguing—the “curious one” may actually be a person thinking and acting from three very different perspectives—each of which could have very real bearing on the fruitfulness in realizing our yearnings to more closely know, love and follow our Lord. [Following definitions, Merriam Webster Dictionary]

1.        Curious—marked by a desire to investigate and learn
To be curious, as one who desires to investigate and learn more about Jesus, is a very good thing. In fact, it is in our resistance to learning—in a very real sense to be instructed—that we become complacent in continuing to grow nearer to God, even as He longs to come nearer to us. This kind of investigating and learning is much more than interpolating facts and figures. Rather, the desire that motivates this kind of curiosity is one rooted in a heart-on-fire-in-love with God, a heart willing to know, live and experience first-hand, Truth in Love. 

2.      Curious—marked by inquisitive interest in others’ concerns, nosy  

Those choosing this kind of curiosity take a step to the darker side, one that sooner or later will likely throw open the door to pain, hurt and misunderstanding in a variety of ways. Curiosity motivated and cloaked in “inquisitive interest” of other people and their concerns redirects our focus and attention away from living a Christ-centered life. There is a very fine line between inquiring to learn—in order to help or encourage—and poking our nose into another persons’ affairs. Apart from a clear and open invitation to be involved in some way in the personal matters of family, friends or spiritual companions, our nosiness will likely stir up more trouble than thankfulness.

3.      Curious—exciting attention as strange, novel or unexpected

This aspect of being curious is most interesting, certainly in the context of the humanity of Jesus Christ. Why? Quite simply, he—more than any other human being before or since the days he walked among us and in resurrection passed from us—excited others. In living so, he often appeared to be strange and novel, behaving in unexpected ways that garnered attention, even thousands of years later.

Jesus’ deepest desire was the attention not center on him as messenger, but rather on what he spoke and demonstrated by example to those around him. Not surprisingly, given all the “strange, novel and unexpected” events that seemed to occur everywhere he went, it was a real challenge to keep the focus where it belonged. This remains true for us today.

Being curious Christians in the manner and likeness of Christ

If you and I truly desire to be Jesus to others, we are called to cross over from a stance of “talking the talk” to one of actively “walking the walk”. This kind of life embodies all that it means to be living epistles. Put another way—our life is to be consumed with living the message not just engaging in rhetoric. When our curiosity for Christ inspires us to live curiously, in the image and likeness of the Divine, we step into a deeper place of intimacy and authenticity--with him, with God and with those we encounter on the journey.

If Jesus’ primary concern had been to be the focus of attention, his effectiveness in living the message of God’s Truth and Love would have been severely, if not fully negated by his presence among us. His attitudes and behaviors always pointed to our Father, the source and summit of all that he knew was good, wise and loving. 

A humble, contrite Christian is not a perfect person or a peculiar freak of nature. Far from it. However, a Christian living the message of Christ as best as he or she can at any given moment is one who will occasionally appear strange, novel or unexpected in their words, actions and deeds. Let us remember it is not those things in and of themselves for which we are to be curious. It is in being vessels through which God can will and work His purposes and plans, no matter how things may appear, that we will see and experience His love in action.

Do I have child-like curiosity, a desire to investigate and learn Godly Truth?

How does investigating and learning take shape in my life?

Is my curiosity more of an inquisitive interest in the concerns of others? Why?

What would it mean for me to live as a curious Christian?

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