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What you will see around the next corner might just amaze you. It might change you. But you’ll have to see for yourself.

Such is the power of curiosity, a forgotten and terribly undervalued trait of humanity.

I just finished reading Barnabas Piper’s new book, The Curious Christian. It isn’t long, but it is profound. And it inspired me to find my curious, imaginative self again – the me that all too often gets lost in the safety of the pragmatic and practical.

According to Piper, when we lose our curiosity, there are side effects:

  • Binary Thinking
  • Missed Connections
  • Depleted Friendships
  • Love Lost
  • Disconnection from God

But we are a practical people. We feel safer inside the confines of what we know. Or a least, what we know to be useful.

Curiosity is the art of knowing that we don’t know, and discovering more about God, about people, about ourselves, and about the amazing world around us.

Barnabas Piper defines curiosity this way:

Creativity is art. It is inventiveness and ingenuity. It is the pursuit of beauty and efficiency. It is the connecting of ideas and resources to make new ideas and better resources. You and I were created to create and discover, created for the vocation of reflecting God’s image…

Creativity is discovery put to good use in a fresh way. We cannot discover unless we ask and search; that is curiosity!

And he concludes that:

To be a vibrant Christian is to be curious.

When it comes to our relationship with God, it is our curiosity that will drive us to discover more of him, more of his truth, and more of his ways. It draws us closer to him, offering the enticement of a more intimate knowledge of our Creator.

In marriage, it is what keeps us in pursuit of our spouse. It keeps us out of the rut and unsettled and always exploring the mind and heart of our partner.

In friendships, it is what gives birth to empathy and feeling and identification. Curiosity is what prevents the stagnation of friendship.

Do we write off curiosity because we’re afraid of it? Or perhaps because we’re afraid that we’re supposed to have grown up and out of it?

If you think curiosity is for kids only, think on the fact that Jesus encouraged us to receive his Kingdom like children, with childlikeness. But we’re trained to be “mature,” to a fault, even by the media we consume. As Piper puts it,

Many of us have become passive recipients of media, cisterns collecting whatever flows our way. We just sit and let it wash over and into us. Such a position is the easiest to take but also the most mindless and the least God-honoring. Curiosity is active. It seeks truth.

Barnabas isn’t saying that consuming media or being entertained, in and of itself, is a bad thing. I think what he’s getting at is that to be trained by media to be mere consumers of data rather than curious seekers of adventure robs us of a bit of life and vitality.

I particularly applaud Barnabas’ thoughts about curiosity and the world of social media:

Curiosity sees the world of Internet interaction as one worth understanding and engaging just like other aspects of culture and society. Curiosity sees that the Internet is not just a hub of information; it is a hub of human connections, and it plunges in headlong to better grasp them and make the most of them.

Can curiosity get us in trouble? If it can kill the cat, can it be the source of our destruction as well? Only if it’s unbridled by discernment, rightly understood. As Piper says,

What we need is curious conviction. We must welcome without wavering. We must recognize that what we see is not the entirety of truth—the foundational conviction of curiosity. We must be humble enough to realize that we could be wrong, especially in our expression and application of convictions. We often are. And we must constantly be looking for where truth and people intersect because that point is where the gospel can land…

We have nothing to fear from the world if our curiosity is truly seeking God’s truth and is anchored in His Word and character. We can’t catch the world’s evil like a cold. If our curiosity is like that of Christ, we have everything to offer the world and a way to offer it.

There’s so much more that this book explores, but I’ll leave you with this final thought from the author…

Curiosity is a virtue and a discipline and a gift. It is a trait and a habit. It is wide and it is narrow. It is deep and it is broad. No matter how it is expressed, curiosity brings richness to both our current life and the next. A curious life is a path toward a richer eternity.

… and a challenge.

Be curious. Cultivate it. Explore. Learn. Read. Listen. Meet people. Challenge your cultural assumptions. Get out of your comfort zone. Be a seeker of adventure and break the addiction to familiarity.

Curiosity really is an overlooked, underrated, desperately needed virtue!

 

 

Brandon Cox is lead pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding and social media. He and his wife Angie live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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Lawrence Webb

commented on Apr 17, 2017

Along with church ministry, I served decades as a professor in a church-related small university. Many bright, curious students passed through my classrooms. Along with those curious kids, I had the other kind too. I still sh-sh-sh-shudder decades later as I recall a young ministerial aspirant who came to my office one day and asked, "Can you tell me some books it would be SAFE for me to read?" I had never been asked that before and was never asked it again in my years of teaching. I don't remember what I said -- probably nothing helpful. Looking back with 20/20, I might have asked him to tell me what kind of books he was afraid to read and maybe ask what he had heard about those books that made him feel they were unsafe for a future pastor-preacher to read. I might have been able to get a conversation going from there.

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