Seeking God: Different Paths

 (c) Can Stock Photo

(c) Can Stock Photo

Finding Jesus Part III

In Finding Jesus Part I (Seeking God: When God Does Not Answer)), we explored the idea that God is near us at all times; that we do not actually “find” God; that we are the problem; that we get in the way of “finding” God; and in order to “find God”, we must get out of the way and do the unthinkable – lose ourselves [1].

In Finding Jesus Part II (Seeking God: Getting to the End of Self), we explored what it means to be in the way, to lose ourselves and get out of the way, with an anecdotal example from my own life.

But we need to explore that a bit further before getting to the conclusion: finding Jesus. And it may help to contrast what getting to the end of self (losing the self) means in the Christian sense compared to the Buddhist sense because finding the right path is important to getting where you want to go.

Buddhism promotes a similar idea to the Christian notion of “dying to self”. For the Buddhist, the ultimate goal is to “lose yourself” (though a Buddhist might not put it in those terms), which means becoming one with nature, one with the universe. The Buddhist seeks to lose self-identity and to achieve oneness (identification) with the cosmic matter of the universe.

More precisely, the Buddhist seeks to lose all sense of personal identity (self) to the universal essence, or oneness of being.

This is different than the Christian idea of losing yourself.

Buddhism is pantheistic, identifying (equating) God with the universe. Christianity (and Judaism out of which Christianity merged) views God as separate and distinct from the universe. The Scripture describes that God created the universe and stands apart from it. While scientists tell us that the universe had a beginning (the Big Bang), God had no beginning. God always was, always is and always ever will be.

Thus, when we lose ourselves as Jesus described, we do not lose our individual identities into some nebulous “cosmos” that is part of the creation. We don’t lose ourselves to the finite universe. We lose ourselves to the infinite God who created the universe.

While the Buddhist seeks to lose personal identity into some cosmic oneness, the Christian, the follower of Christ, seeks to lose the self (and self-will) to God, but, in doing so, this God who made us affirms your identity in Him as the unique person He created you to be, a reflection of Him.

As followers of Christ, we lose ourselves to find the self that God intends us to be,[2] the self that is created in His image[3] (that reflects his nature) and is one with God. God is separate and distinct from His creation and, therefore, so are we.

In Buddhism, we lose ourselves into everything else (everything other than self), into cosmic oneness (Nirvana). In the kingdom of God, we lose ourselves to the God who made us and become one with the Creator (not the creation).

When we lose ourselves in the Christian sense to God, we find ourselves. God comes to dwell within us, and we begin to become all that God has created us to be which is only possible in relation to the creator of our souls. We do this by losing the lone ranger self, the self that wants to be in control, and by allowing God to be God in our lives.[4]

The amazing thing about this is that God gives us what we are looking for, even though we may not realize exactly what we are looking for. He gives everything we thought we were missing.

This is not a matter of ritual, but a matter of the heart. God wants our hearts, not our sacrifices.[5] God wants us, not some dutiful homage. “You come near me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.”[6] We need to draw near to God with our hearts – our entire being.

The world tells us that we must seek ourselves, that we should exalt and treasure ourselves above all other things. The ironic thing is that this is close to what we need to do to find God, but the subtle difference takes us in the opposite direction!

Seeking our true selves is the same thing as seeking God, but for one thing: it is not ourselves that we need to find. We need to get past ourselves to find God; and in finding God, we also find ourselves.

We are naturally in a state of disconnection from God. That is why, when we cry out to God, He seems not to hear us. The problem is not that God doesn’t hear us. The problem is that we do not hear God!

We are disconnected from God, but He is right there! He was there all along!

When we exalt the natural self, the self that is disconnected from God, we move further and further from God. When we allow ourselves to be selfish and fan the flames of the fire of self-will and self-determination, we are move away from God, and the sadly ironic thing is that we will never find our true selves that way. We also will not find God that way.

The way to find God is to follow Jesus, which I will explore in Finding Jesus Part IV (Seeking God: Finding Jesus!)


[1] “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

[2] “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

[3] “[Y]ou lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

[4] “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

[5] “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6);

[6] Matt. 15:8 & Mark 7:6 quoting Isaiah 29:13

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