If you didn’t really grow up around church or Christian stuff then you might smirk when people say, “I found Jesus” or write posts like this one about “how to find Jesus.” Maybe you’re thinking, “So is Jesus hiding all over the place like Easter eggs?” Or, “Why is Jesus hiding in the first place?” Or, “Wait, so how did Jesus get lost?” There’s a part of me that wonders if Jesus Himself gets a laugh out of it.
I smirk about it too, but trying to find Jesus for myself is something I also take seriously. I’ve staked my entire life on my belief that Jesus was not only a great human, but He was and still is Christ. To put it simply, I believe He is God. This may be no surprise to you since you’re reading this on a church website, but if you think about it, it’s a really big thing to decide to believe.
I’m not saying my belief in Jesus as the Christ has always come easy for me. It hasn’t. Finding, following, knowing, and sharing Jesus’ way of life is how I’ve spent the majority of my life’s energy, and there are still moments when I wonder if I’ve lost Jesus somehow, or if I’m looking in the wrong places, or if I’m wrong about Him altogether. Still, it’s the best thing I’ve spent my life on. Based on my first 35 years, I think finding Jesus for yourself will take your whole life and make your life whole.
Who is Jesus?
There’s a bit more theology (the study of God) to unwrap about how Jesus Christ is God’s Son who existed before all of the universe, who entered into our world as a baby, who took on all of our humanity and made a way for us to really know God and enter into His family. How the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, now comforts and empowers those who follow Christ. There’s more to say about this, but this is less of a post about theology and more a post about what I’m learning as I look for Jesus as an adult. If you’re looking for something different, here are a few other posts I’ve written as I learn to follow Jesus.
- Why do Christians believe Jesus was raised from the dead?
- Why do Christians celebrate Easter?
- A prayer and some practices for getting to know Jesus.
- The baby Jesus I used to steal from my mom’s nativity set.
- 7 times Jesus changed culture toward women.
What does it mean to find Jesus?
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I found Jesus” after they went through a life-changing twelve-step program to get free from addiction. That’s pretty common. Jesus seems to be into getting to know people who’ve hit rock bottom and are ready to find a whole new way to live.
Maybe you’ve heard someone talk about coming back to Jesus after a period when they didn’t really practice their faith.
Maybe you’ve never really heard people talk about finding Jesus at all, and you’re just looking into whether or not you want to try and find Him yourself.
Here’s what I mean by finding Jesus: because of a historical human (Jesus), who is also the eternal God, you are fully seen, fully known, and fully loved by the God who made you and your world, and experience unfathomable grace and truth as a result. John, a better writer than me, and a close friend of Jesus, said it like this:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
What are some ways to find Jesus?
People think about Jesus in lots of different ways. Some people, like me, believe He is the Son of God, who came to give us life and life to the full. There are people who believe He was a great human who taught great things, but maybe not more than that. There are people who believe He was someone who knew God well, and even spoke for Him, but was not God Himself. Finally, there’s a small group that questions whether or not he was a historical figure at all. For the sake of this post, I am assuming that you’re less likely to be in the last group, but more likely somewhere near one of the first few. But even if you are unsure of the existence of Jesus, I’m honored that you’re reading and I think you may still find something you believe in below.
I grew up in and around church as a pastor’s kid. I always heard people talk about how you can’t just have your parents’ faith. Shoot, I think I probably taught lessons about that myself. So I went after all kinds of information and studied about faith, theology, science, philosophy, and religion, to figure out what I believed for myself. For a while, the information and the pursuit of it was enough for me, but sometime in my thirties, I realized I was still looking to find Jesus for myself. Here are a few things I learned when I started searching.
1. Go the places Jesus goes.
If you read the gospels (the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life) you will find that Jesus was always on the move and often in places you’d least expect to find someone whose life would influence the entire world.
You’ll find Jesus crossing racial, cultural, and gender barriers at the well talking with a woman. You’ll find Him sleeping on a boat in the middle of a storm with a bunch of working-class fishermen. When He delivers His most famous sermon (the Sermon on the Mount), He chooses a hillside instead of a temple. He meets some of His first followers on the beach. When He overcomes temptation, he’s alone in the desert. Jesus isn’t just all over the place, He also always seems to be on His way somewhere.
If you feel like you lost Jesus, you probably didn’t. Jesus won’t leave you, but He will lead you. He often leads us out of our comfort zone and into places where others need to be loved. A few of these places for me have been moving into a working-class neighborhood, marching with the family of an inmate on death row, learning to skateboard in clouds of language and funny-smelling smoke, and standing at the info wall of my church, listening to people’s questions about God. Think about where you live. If Jesus were walking around as a human today, where might He lead you?
2. Find the people Jesus hangs out with.
As I read through the books in the Bible that tell the story of Jesus’ life (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) I see some patterns. Jesus often encourages people who are sick, left-out, misunderstood, wrongfully labeled, oppressed, captive, and low on resources. He doesn’t just live this way. He regularly and directly asks His followers to give to and learn from people in these situations.
In Matthew 25, Jesus goes all the way to say that He is the people who are treated as less than. When you do something for someone who won’t make it worth your while, you’ve done it for Jesus. When you overlook people who need to be loved, you overlook Jesus. Bookmark Matthew 25:31-46 and read it every once in a while. Trying to live out these words from Jesus have helped me find Him in the lives of others more than just about anything else I’ve done or read.
3. Do the things Jesus does.
Are you picking up on a theme? Finding and following Jesus is mostly going where He goes, loving who He loves, and doing what He does. Jesus often communicated in stories and questions, but in Matthew 16, He got pretty direct about what it means to find and follow Him.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 ESV
You may have spent time around people or churches before that display flashy crosses and seem to know a lot about what the Bible says, but don’t really do what Jesus did. Jesus fled comfort, pursued pain, rejected notoriety, and loved without caution. He went looking for his friends after they betrayed Him and then cooked them breakfast on the beach. He went against both religious and secular culture to not only respect women but elevate them. When people tried to wash his feet (it was a thing), He’d turn and wash theirs instead (not a thing).
When adults were hushing the kids, Jesus called them to Himself and told the adults they’d have to become like a child to really understand God. When religious leaders pushed rules, He pushed grace. He rested regularly. He went off to find solitude with God, and He attended His local places of worship, and He ate with cheating tax collectors, grumpy religious leaders, and prostitutes. He hugged people who no one would touch and He healed people from all kinds of pain and sickness. He wasn’t self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing. Jesus knew who He was and He lived from the depths of a soul that was settled and centered on love.
How do I know if I’ve found Jesus?
These last few years of my life, I’ve asked this question and similar questions off and on. Am I really living the way of Jesus? Do I know Him? Does His Spirit live in and with me? Why do I still look out for myself? Why do I get riled up by political fears, but feel less affected by systems that oppress my neighbors? Why do I struggle to be patient with my own family? Why did another Jesus follower in the news say something crazy or make such a big mistake?
Here’s what I’ve learned about Jesus. When you look for Him, going where He goes, doing what He does, loving who He loves (everyone), and asking Him for His help, you find Him. You might not find Him where you thought He’d be, doing what you thought He’d be doing, or with you who you thought He’d be with, but you will find Him. Jesus was answering similar questions when He said this in Matthew 7:
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” Matthew 7:7-11 MSG
So, do you want to find Jesus for yourself?
Maybe you never really knew Him or maybe you’re looking again. Either way, be direct. Go to the source and try saying these words to get started.
God, I’m here. I’m ready to know Jesus. I want to try following Him with my life. Will You help me make Jesus the Leader of my life? I want plenty of Your light to live in.
Jesus, I believe You gave me Your life; I am giving You mine. I need Your forgiveness. I need Your Holy Spirit to make a home in my heart. Comfort, love, and guide me into this new way of life. Thank You for Your grace, kindness, and forgiveness. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
We are thrilled for you to find Jesus for yourself, but it’s nearly impossible to follow Him by yourself. If you prayed this prayer, let a real person know and we’ll follow up with you.
Also, our church is by no means the only place to find Jesus, but it is a great place to get to know people who are following Him. We’d love to see you sometime at Life.Church.