How to Assume the Right Posture in our Pursuit of God

A few years ago, an incredible exhibit came to the New Children’s Museum here in San Diego. One part treehouse, one part labyrinth, it’s called The Wonder Sound and it was designed by Wes Bruce. 

When my boys and I first stumbled upon it, my eyes widened in delight. The structure is full of whimsy, with 18,000 hand cut wood shapes and poetry adorning the walls. My boys ran in, eager to explore all the ropes, rooms, and nooks. There was so much to discover, we always found something new on subsequent visits.

One day, another mom at the museum asked me if we had found the spoon cave yet. When I shook my head, she pointed to a square opening in the wall, near the corner of the exhibit. My boys clambered through and I could hear their muffled expressions of wonder when they reached their destination. Intrigued, I followed them. But I couldn’t get to the spoon cave without crouching down on my hands and knees and crawling through a dark tunnel first. 

It was worth the pilgrimage: the spoon cave had 3,000 spoons hanging from the ceiling. Pinpricks of light made the space feel other-worldly and waves of tinkling sounds surrounded you every time someone ran their fingers across the silverware.

It was beautiful. And I would have missed it had I not been willing to assume the correct posture to crawl through the tunnel to get there.

In much the same way, there is an ideal posture we should assume when we set out to take our theology seriously in our pursuit to know God. 

Christian know-it-all

Upon graduating from my Christian high school, I was told that soon we would be exposed to lots of other ideas about God and the Christian life — from college professors, different churches, other friends, from anywhere. And it would be our responsibility to filter these ideas through what we knew to be true, and we were to reject anything that didn’t line up with what we’d been taught.

I believe in being discerning. We shouldn’t swallow whole everything we are told. But that advice presupposed that we already knew everything there was to know about God, the Bible, and living the Christian Life. It assumed that we had the correct picture of God in our pocket, ready at a moment’s notice to compare it to any other idea, rejecting any other picture that wasn’t a 100% match to what we had been taught was true.

This advice left no room for intellectual humility. It left no space for curiosity. It did not teach us to have an open posture in listening to others, and in learning from others. It set up any idea that was different from the ones we grew up with as a threat. It turned us into defensive Christians and stunted our spiritual growth.

It left us standing in front of a small square opening, unwilling to get on our hands and knees for the possibility of discovery. Instead, we maintained our statuesque posture, hiding behind cherry-picked Bible verses that proved our rightness, labeling anyone who dared to bend down as “lukewarm,” “backsliders,” “doubters.”

A better way

What would it mean if we took a more open and humble approach to our theology, to learning about God? Might we develop a better appreciation for the different ways others connect with God? Would we become more united on the doctrinal points that really matter? Would showing each other grace and giving the benefit of the doubt finally turn us into the loving people we’re supposed to be?

As we make room in our own spiritual journeys for different ideas, the flaps on the box we’ve kept God in will slowly peel open. Our faith will grow and expand. Maybe we will become more comfortable with paradox and mystery, ready to be the first to admit “I don’t know.”

Knowing God is a lifelong journey and developing our own theology is the most important thing we’ll do. We must assume a humble and open posture in this pursuit or we will risk missing out on a deeper, richer faith.

Knowing God is a lifelong journey and developing our own theology is the most important thing we’ll do. We must assume a humble and open posture in this pursuit or we will risk missing out on a deeper, richer faith.

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*Feature Image by reenablack from Pixabay

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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