Are we seeker sensitive? The question seems a bit out of date if you are aware of the trends in evangelical churches. We are obviously not like the churches who have altered the landscape of ministry to kowtow to felt needs. One writer described their approach like this: “Out the stained glass window went the somewhat formal 45-minute exegetical sermon, replaced by a shorter, story-based talk to address the “felt needs” of the congregants while reinforcing the premise that following Jesus would dramatically improve their quality of life.”
Some reacted to this movement with the veneer of spirituality by saying simply that seekers do not exist, citing Paul’s indictment of humanity in Romans 3:11 (Quoting Ps. 14:1-3 and 53:1-3) “… no one understands; no one seeks for God.” If no one seeks for God, then being seeker sensitive seems absurd!
With that clearly in mind, it might surprise you to know that I pray we will be properly seeker sensitive! Before the tar is hot and the feathers plucked, please hear me out.
First, we need to know God well enough to know that although humans do not by nature seek God, that is not the whole story! The book of Acts particularly expands our perspective.
In Acts 15:16-18 James quotes Amos 9:11-12 and says, “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’
In Acts 16:27 that the reason God created mankind from one and established the times and boundaries of kingdoms was, “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;”
Let’s try to pull this all together. First, we should know that God is at work in the world around us, even when we aren’t personally doing the work! Part of that work was made explicit by Jesus when He said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44)
The point is that although no one seeks God by their own nature, people do indeed seek the God Who is drawing them by His grace! As Paul quotes from Isaiah, “Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” (Romans 10:20 Isa. 65:1)
When God works in the heart this way, faith is produced as cited in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” We need to be constantly sensitive to this kind of seeker!
At the same time, we have a strong tendency to be sensitive to the wrong kind of seeker! The Bible speaks very pointedly about an improper, sin-induced “seeking.”
In the Bible, many people are portrayed as seeking for things like food and clothing, signs from God, and worldly wisdom. None of these are presented in a positive light. They all flow from the general analysis Paul used when contrasting the godly attitude of Timothy, “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21) That is the folly which the world calls wisdom—”For where jealousy and selfish ambition (NKJV: “self-seeking”) exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:16)
The key for a church is to be sensitive to those seeking God by His drawing but insensitive to those seeking their own agenda. Unfortunately, many times the reality if just the opposite! Our focus must be on the right “search” as portrayed in Colossians 3:1 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
May we always be sensitive to the godly seeker and insensitive to the one who seeks their personal agenda!