Jesus tells the respected and influential Jewish Pharisee Nicodemus that he must be “born again” to see the Kingdom of God (John 3)—there is no other way to experience life the way the Trinity lives it. And the learned man responds just as we would—“Huh?” Or, more faithful to the text: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Like so many others who respond to Jesus literally instead of metaphorically, Nicodemus misses the point…
It’s easy to diminish Nicodemus because of his confusion—but when we do, we forget what brought him to Jesus in the first place. Curiosity. Without it, Nicodemus would never have risked his reputation, his religious standing, his family’s honor, and even his life to visit Jesus in the night. Nicodemus comes…
- With questions, not assertions (“What do you mean?”).
- With humility, not arrogance (“We all know that God has sent you to teach us”).
- With doubt, not certainty (“How are these things possible?”).
Nicodemus is a very brave man who has discovered the portal into transformation… Curiosity. The born-over life he’s about to enter is only possible because he elevates curiosity above pragmatism and fear…
When researchers asked church leaders to pick one “essential” for people who want to “know Jesus [and] be more like him,” their top answer was “Time with God.” Well, time alone isn’t the point—we can sit next to the same person on the subway every day but not know that person’s heart. It’s what we do in our time with God that really matters. To get close to Jesus, or to others, we become people who are persistently curious
Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 7 beyond our normal assumption that He is instructing us on how to pray: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). In all of life, not just in our prayer life, our engine of curiosity leads to receiving what we ask for, finding what we’re seeking, and opening closed doors. Curiosity is the key to our growth and freedom.
The one thing we know for sure about Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 is that He is bowled over and amazed by her willingness to lean into risk-taking curiosity with Him. Because of her determination to ask, seek, and knock, she shows up where she doesn’t belong, asks what she shouldn’t ask, invests what she can’t afford to lose, gives what she’s not supposed to give, and moves toward Jesus when he seems to push her away. In the gale-force wind of her determination to pursue Him with the force of her curiosity, He faces into the hurricane, raises his arms, and exults in it.
To join Him, we’ll need to recapture our childlike habits of curiosity. When we do, we engage our hearts, souls, minds, and strength—the forceful propellants behind transformation. The difference between a breeze and a hurricane is wind speed, and the difference between a conventional life and a life driven by curiosity is heart/soul/mind/strength intentionality.
- Ask more questions of others than is normal for you.
- Read more books and newsletters and magazines than you do now.
- Pay attention to the people and places you encounter today, considering what you’d like to know more about.
- When you watch something or experience something, discover the takeaways of others.
- Listen to more podcasts and TED talks and interviews than you do now (the Trinity Forum’s Interview Series is a great place to start – https://www.ttf.org/video/ ).
- Invest in more continuing learning courses than you do now.
On this last point, I’d like to extend an invitation to you… Check out our new lineup of MasterClass Courses for 2023, then invest in a Season Pass or single-class registration. We have gathered some of the most innovative, experienced, and engaging practitioners in the ministry world as instructors for eight completely new courses. A Season Pass gives you (and anyone in your church you choose to share it with) full access to all eight courses, including the additional resources and helps the instructors include with their courses.
Enter through the portal of curiosity and you’ll experience transformational growth, because Jesus promised you would…
Rick Lawrence is Executive Director of Vibrant Faith—he created the new curriculum Following Jesus. He’s editor of the Jesus-Centered Bibleand author of 40 books, including The Suicide Solution,The Jesus-Centered Lifeand Jesus-Centered Daily. He hosts the podcast Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus.