Donald Miller Searching for God Knows What

ISBN 13: 9781400202751

Searching for God Knows What

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9781400202751: Searching for God Knows What
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New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller explores the origin and?meaning of?redemption in this fully revised and redesigned bestseller.Hysterically funny, wryly provocative, and disquietingly insightful, Searching for God Knows What invites readers to examine their deep need for redemption, to feel it, know it, and live like it is true in their lives.

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About the Author:

Donald Miller has helped more than 3,000 businesses clarify their marketing messages so their companies grow. He's the CEO of StoryBrand, the cohost of the Building a StoryBrand Podcast, and the author of several books, including the bestsellers Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their dogs, Lucy and June Carter.

 

 

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter Ten
The Gospel of Jesus
It Never Was a Formula

My friend Greg and I have been talking quite a bit about what it means to follow Jesus. Greg would not consider himself as somebody who takes Jesus seriously, but he admits to having questions. I didn't have a formula for him to understand how a Christian conversion works, but I told him that many years ago, when I was a child, I had heard about Jesus and found the idea of Him compelling, then much later while reading the Gospels, came to believe I wanted to follow Him. This changed things in my life, I said, because it involved giving up everything and choosing to go into a relationship with Him. Greg told me he had seen a pamphlet with four or five ideas on it, ideas such as man was a sinner, sin separated man from God, and Christ died to absolve the separation. He asked me if this was what I believed, and I told him, essentially, that it was. "Those would be the facts of the story," I said, "but that isn't the story."

"Those are the ideas, but it isn't the narrative," Greg stated rhetorically.

"Yes," I told him.

Earlier that same year I had a conversation with my friend Omar, who is a student at a local college. For his humanities class, Omar was assigned to read the majority of the Bible. He asked to meet with me for coffee, and when we sat down he put a Bible on the table as well as a pamphlet containing the same five or six ideas Greg had mentioned. He opened the pamphlet, read the ideas, and asked if these concepts were important to the central message of Christianity. I told Omar they were critical; that, basically, this was the gospel of Jesus, the backbone of Christian faith. Omar then opened his Bible and asked, "If these ideas are so important, why aren't they in this book?"

"But the Scripture references are right here," I said curiously, showing Omar that the verses were printed next to each idea.

"I see that," he said. "But in the Bible they aren't concise like they are in this pamphlet. They are spread out all over the book."

"But this pamphlet is a summation of the ideas," I clarified.

"Right," Omar continued, "but it seems like, if these ideas are that critical, God would have taken the time to make bullet points out of them. Instead, He put some of them here and some of them there. And half the time, when Jesus is talking, He is speaking entirely in parables. It is hard to believe that whatever it is He is talking about can be summed up this simply."

Omar's point is well taken. And while the ideas presented in these pamphlets are certainly true, it struck me how simply we had begun to explain the ideas, not only how simply, but how nonrelationally, how propositionally. I don't mean any of this to fault the pamphlets at all. Tracts such as the ones Omar and Greg encountered have been powerful tools in helping people understand the beauty of the message of Christ. Millions, perhaps, have come to know Jesus through these efficient presentations of the gospel. But I did begin to wonder if there were better ways of explaining it than these pamphlets. After all, the pamphlets have been around for only the last fifty years or so (along with our formulaic presentation of the gospel), and the church has shrunk, not grown, in Western countries in which these tools have been used. But the greater trouble with these reduced ideas is that modern evangelical culture is so accustomed to this summation that it is difficult for us to see the gospel as anything other than a list of true statements with which a person must agree.

It makes me wonder if, because of this reduced version of the claims of Christ, we believe the gospel is easy to understand, a simple mental exercise, not in the least bit mysterious. And if you think about it, a person has a more difficult time explaining romantic love, for instance, or beauty, or the Trinity, than the gospel of Jesus. John would open his gospel by presenting the idea that God is the Word and Jesus is the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Not exactly bullet points for easy consumption. Perhaps our reduction of these ideas has caused us to miss something.

o o o

Each year I teach a class on the gospel and culture at a small Bible college back east. This year I asked the students to list the precepts a person would need to understand in order to become a Christian. I stood at the white board and they called out ideas: Man was sinful by nature; sin separates us from God; Jesus died for our sins; we could accept Jesus into our hearts (after some thought, students were not able to explain exactly what they meant by this, only saying it was a kind of interaction in which a person agrees Jesus is the Son of God), and so on. Then, looking at the board, I began to ask some questions about these almost universally accepted ideas. I asked if a person could believe all these ideas were true and yet not be a Christian. I told them my friend Matt, for instance, believed all these ideas and yet would never claim to be a person who knows Jesus or much less follows Him. The students conceded that, in fact, a person could know and even believe all the concepts on the board and yet not be a Christian. "Then there is something missing, isn't there?" I said to the class. "It isn't watertight just yet. There must be some idea we are leaving out, some full-proof thing a person has to agree with in order to have a relationship with Christ." We sat together and looked at the board for several minutes until we conceded we weren't going to come up with the missing element. I then erased the board and asked the class a different question: "What ideas would a guy need to agree with or what steps would a guy need to take in order to fall in love with a girl?" The class chuckled a bit, but I continued, going so far as to begin a list.

1. A guy would have to get to know her.

I stood back from the board and wondered out loud what the next step might be. "Any suggestions?" I asked the class. We thought about it for a second, and then one of the students spoke up and said, "It isn't exactly a scientific process."

The Gospel: A Relational Dynamic

Perhaps the reason Scripture includes so much poetry in and outside the narrative, so many parables and stories, so many visions and emotional letters, is because it is attempting to describe a relational break man tragically experienced with God and a disturbed relational history man has had since then and, furthermore, a relational dynamic man must embrace in order to have relational intimacy with God once again, thus healing himself of all the crap he gets into while looking for a relationship that makes him feel whole. Maybe the gospel of Jesus, in other words, is all about our relationship with Jesus rather than about ideas. And perhaps our lists and formulas and bullet points are nice in the sense they help us memorize different truths, but harmful in the sense they delude, or perhaps ignore, the necessary relationship that must begin between ourselves and God for us to become His followers. And worse, perhaps our formulas and bullet points and steps steal the sincerity with which we might engage God.

Becoming a Christian might look more like falling in love than baking cookies. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that in order for a person to know Jesus they must get a kind of crush on Him. But what I am suggesting is that, not unlike any other relationship, a person might need to understand that Jesus is alive, that He exists, that He is God, that He is in authority, that we need to submit to Him, that He has the power to save, and so on and so on, all of which are ideas, but ideas entangled in a kind of relational dynamic. This seems more logical to me because if God made us, wants to know us, then this would require a more mysterious interaction than what would be required by following a kind of recipe.

I realize it all sounds terribly sentimental, but imagine the other ideas popular today that we sometimes hold up as credible: We believe a person will gain access to heaven because he is knowledgeable about theology, because he can win at a game of religious trivia. And we may believe a person will find heaven because she is very spiritual and lights incense and candles and takes bubble baths and reads books that speak of centering her inner self; and some of us believe a person is a Christian because he believes five ideas that Jesus communicated here and there in Scripture, though never completely at one time and in one place; and some people believe they are Christians because they do good things and associate themselves with some kind of Christian morality; and some people believe they are Christians because they are Americans. If any of these models are true, people who read the Bible before we systematically broke it down, and, for that matter, people who believed in Jesus before the printing press or before the birth of Western civilization, are at an extreme disadvantage. It makes you wonder if we have fashioned a gospel around our culture and technology and social economy rather than around the person of Christ. It doesn't make a great deal of sense that a person who went to Bible college should have a better shot at heaven than a person who didn't, and it doesn't make a lot of sense either that somebody sentimental and spiritual has greater access. I think it is more safe and more beautiful and more true to believe that when a person dies he will go and be with God because, on earth, he had come to know Him, that he had a relational encounter with God not unlike meeting a friend or a lover or having a father or taking a bride, and that in order to engage God he gave up everything, repented and changed his life, as this sort of extreme sacrifice is what is required if true love is to grow. We would expect nothing less in a marriage; why should we accept anything less in becoming unified with Christ? In fact, I have to tell you, I believe the Bible is screaming this idea and is completely...

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Book Description Thomas Nelson Publishers, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Expanded. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Searching for God Knows What, best-selling author Donald Miller invites you to reconnect with a faith worth believing. With humor, intelligence, and his trademark writing style, he shows that relationship is God s way of leading us to redemption. And our need for redemption drives us to relationship with God. Being a Christian, Miller writes, is more like falling in love than understanding a series of ideas. Maybe you are a Christian wondering what faith you signed up for. Or maybe you don t believe anything and are daring someone-anyone-to show you a genuine example of authentic faith. Somewhere beyond the self-help formulas, fancy marketing, and easy promises there is a life-changing experience with God waiting. Searching for God Knows What weaves together beautiful stories and fresh perspectives on the Bible to show one man s journey to find it. Like a shaken snow globe, Donald Miller s newest collection of essays creates a swirl of ideas about the Christian life that eventually crystallize into a lovely landscape . . . [He] is one of the evangelical book market s most creative writers. -Christianity Today If you have felt that Jesus is someone you respect and admire-but Christianity is something that repels you-Searching for God Knows What will give you hope that you still can follow Jesus and be part of a church without the trappings of organized religion. -Dan Kimball Author of The Emerging Church and Pastor of Vintage Faith Church, Santa Cruz, CA For fans of Blue Like Jazz, I doubt you will be disappointed. Donald Miller writes with the wit and vulnerability that you expect. He perfectly illustrates important themes in a genuine and humorous manner . . . For those who would be reading Miller for the first time, this would be a great start. -Relevant. Seller Inventory # AAS9781400202751

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