taking the words of Jesus seriously

The following blog post was originally posted on my blog, “The Jaded Evangelical”. “The Jaded Evangelical” is part devotional and part Christian apologetic, aiming to encourage those who have walked away from the Church due to becoming discouraged (or, jaded) by how polluted the Church has become by conservative politics and American ideology. There is another way forward – and we’ll find it by focusing on Jesus. You can read more at: Blog | The Jaded Evangelical (webador.com) or on Substack: The Jaded Evangelical | SM Reed | Substack.

“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” – Matthew 7:8

When my oldest son was merely a toddler, we would play hide and seek. At first, he didn’t seem to truly understand the strategy behind the game. Rather than finding a good hiding spot, he would sit against a wall in the middle of a room, cover his eyes with his hands, and say, “Mama, come find me!” Then he would giggle like crazy as I pretended I couldn’t see him sitting there right in front of me and made a big deal of looking for him.

I’m remembering this adorable story as I contemplate how we seek and find Jesus.

Sometimes, especially when we are going through something difficult, we may feel as though Jesus is hiding from us. Or worse, as though He has left us entirely.

But is it true? Is He hiding? Has He left us?

Or could it be, that He is right there in front of us, but we are not looking in the right place?

There’s a story I heard once about Billy Graham – one of Evangelical Christianity’s greatest evangelists in his time. The story goes that Graham once traveled to a Buddhist monastery high up in the mountains of Tibet or Nepal (I forget which). He was able to meet with one of the monks who lived there. He sat down with this monk, and he told him about Jesus. After he finished his evangelistic spiel, he asked, Would you like me to introduce you to Jesus? And the monk said, No, because I already know Him. 

The monk had sought out truth, and he had found Jesus. Or, perhaps, Jesus had honored his seeking by revealing Himself to the monk. The Buddhist monk lived secluded in the mountains of a country where less than 2% of the population is Christian – but he came to know Him, because Jesus was near.

There’s another story, told in the excellent book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi.  In the book, Qureshi chronicles his journey, which began with him setting out to debunk Christianity and prove Islam. Along the way, he found Jesus instead, and, convicted of the truth of Christianity, he converted. He sought the truth, and found Jesus, because Jesus was near.

Lee Stroebel is another example. He was an atheist in a marriage on its way to divorce when his wife met Jesus. She didn’t bang him over the head with it or try to get him to convert. But he saw the change in her. Change for good – not changing into some cold, judgmental, hateful person. She became more patient, more loving, more joyful. So, he set out much like Qureshi did to debunk Christianity and to convince her she had fallen for a ploy. Instead, he also found Jesus. He was convicted by the amount of evidence for Christianity and has become one of our generation’s great apologists. He found Jesus – because Jesus was near.

When I took a missions class some years back, I heard stories like this from real life missionaries serving all around the world. Stories of Hindus coming to Christ through mind-blowing miracles, of Muslims meeting Jesus in their dreams, of entire families and even communities being transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus not only is found by those who seek Him but shows Himself to those who do not even know what it is they seek.

Here in the U.S., our churches sometimes seem confused about where to find Jesus. We are told – implicitly or explicitly – Jesus doesn’t do miracles like in New Testament times. We are told Jesus doesn’t necessarily speak to us directly, but rather only through His Word. It is almost as though we are lowering our expectations so as not to be disappointed.

But what if He does? What if Jesus does do miracles, does want to speak to us directly, and does want to engage with us, but we no longer know how to hear Him?

Or maybe, we are not finding Him, because we are not even looking for Him.

In Matthew 13:58, Jesus is teaching at the Sea of Galilee and Matthew notes, “And He did not do many miracles there, because of their unbelief.”

What if we are missing out on Jesus because we do not believe?

Maybe we believe in Jesus, in the God-man who existed on Earth 2000 years ago and did many great things. Maybe we even believe He rose and died again and hope in Him for our salvation.

But we do not believe He wants and is able to radically move in our lives today. We do not expect to hear Him or experience Him in any kind of real way.

Or maybe, we aren’t expecting Him to do anything because we are so busy trying to do everything ourselves.

We think we’ve got this. We don’t need divine intervention. We’re doing a-OK on our own.

We’re bustling about, trying to usher in His Kingdom through passing the right laws and voting for the right political candidates and marching against our “heathen” neighbors.  

Forget about the fact that this approach is contrary to the gospel of Jesus. Jesus who loved and served and had compassion on the vulnerable around Him.  He didn’t care if they were outcasts or if they were unpopular or if they were unclean. He just loved people.

Why is it so hard for us to do the same?

Maybe that’s the real reason why we can’t find Him – because we’ve been blinded by our own pride and privilege and determination. Because our independence and individuality means more to us than the King we claim to serve.

But, if we are truly followers of Jesus, if we are “little Christs”, should we not be emulating Him rather than some white savior type image? Should we not be more concerned about following Christ than following a flag?

I think if we were, if we truly were seeking Jesus, I think we would find Him. I think He’s not as far away as we believe.  I think He wants to be found, just like my toddler did. Jesus wants to step in and do amazing things in and through our lives.

Because He is near.

About The Author


S.M. Reed holds two Master’s degrees, one in Theology and one in Psychology. She was raised in church and has been involved in different ministry and leadership positions for most of her life. In Spring 2024, she began seminary for a Master of Divinity degree in order to pursue a pastoral role in the future.  

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