About twenty-five years ago, a new way of speaking spread throughout the church. Those whom we used to call “non-Christians” were all of a sudden identified as “seekers.” This shift in language was felt to be less alienating, and it recognized that all human beings have a deep longing for God. Seekers might not know God yet, but they are on the path toward enlightenment.
In some ways, there may be a God-shaped hole that only Christ can fill, on the other hand, the Bible is clear that no one seeks after God, no not one (Isaiah 31:1 NASB, Jeremiah 30:14 NASB, Romans 3:11). God must draw the person to himself (John 6:44), and we have the promise that when we seek God, he will be found (Jeremiah 29:13).
“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)
In Luke 15, Jesus uses similar imagery to describe those who are separated from God, but in a surprisingly different manner. In Luke 15:3-7, he paints a picture of a sheep that has strayed from the flock and the shepherd’s care. The sheep is not so much a seeker as it is one that is lost. Yet there is a seeker in Jesus’ story… the shepherd! The shepherd leaves the rest of the flock in order to search for the lost sheep. When he finds it, he brings it home and calls together all of his friends so that they might rejoice with him because the lost sheep was found.
Jesus is underscoring something essential about God’s nature and his own kingdom-centered mission. He is also drawing from a vivid description of God found in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 34, the Lord revealed himself as the good shepherd who searches for his lost sheep (Ezekiel 34:11-12). Jesus represents this kind of God, and is this kind of God has come in the flesh.
Whether we refer to non-Christian people as seekers or not, we must remember that God is the Seeker. He is the Good Shepherd who seeks after those who are lost, including you and me. This is such an amazing truth.