People have always been curious about what is happening around them, particularly in their neighborhoods, groups, or even churches. Have a police car pull up in front of a house on the street and curtains twitch, blinds get lifted just a bit, and suddenly the table in front of the window needs dusting desperately. Phones start ringing from house to house as people check with their neighbors to see who can see what and if they know anything about what’s going on. Ambulances provide the same sort of thing, although often there is some concern about what has happened.
The curiosity factor, I think, is due to instinct. Before the days of home security systems, police or community watch programs, watchtowers, and even a single person from a small group tending a fire and being vigilant for attacking enemies, thieves, and ferocious (and hungry) wild beasts. The sound of a small rock falling, a twig or small branch breaking, or some unfamiliar noise could mean the difference between life and death.
Indeed, this inquisitiveness has brought us almost every advance in our cultures and technology, from harnessing fire to land on distant moons and planets. Science is suspicion or questioning harnessed to attempt to understand how the world works and how to use nature and natural substances to make life better. It also creates the search for new and better ways of doing things, making things last longer, and cure more injuries and diseases. Sometimes necessity drives curiosity, like searching for vaccines like those for COVID and other diseases and conditions.
There’s the old saying about “Curiosity killed the cat,” not one of my favorite sayings. Still, there have been lots of animals (and people) who got nosy about something new and different or, like a crow, seeing something shiny and taking it back to the nest. People pick up a shiny rock or seashell, turn it over and over in their hands and either toss it back to the ground or put it in their pocket to take home and investigate more closely with a magnifying glass or more focused light.
Sometimes, I think it is a bit funny that the term “Intelligence,” meaning knowing what others are doing, thinking, planning, or building, is really a semi-sanctioned form of nosiness about what’s going on in the neighbor’s backyard. We love watching Miss Marple or Lord Peter Wimsey snoop about, picking up clues, and eventually solving murders and other mayhem. Curiosity about how something works or learning a fact about something new can lead anyone to the library (or Google) to dig up information on a topic that develops into either a passion for a new subject or, at least, enough information to satisfy the itch the initial fact or report began.
I’m pretty sure curiosity about Jesus was one of the main reasons people journeyed, sometimes long distances, to find out who this person was that they had heard about through word of mouth from others. Perhaps they heard someone quote one of Jesus’s teachings, or maybe it was the recounting of a miracle he had performed that caused them to want to hear and see more. Even after they had experienced Jesus for themselves, they weren’t always satisfied that somebody had scratched the itch they had initially felt.
Many came back, and others followed Jesus from place to place. It wasn’t only men who joined the followers. Women of means also traveled with Jesus and the disciples, buying them food and perhaps lodging. In return, all they asked was to continue hearing these words that spoke to them so clearly and deeply. Chances are, the women had done what Jesus told the rich young man to do – to sell all they had and follow Jesus, supporting the poor and even the Master himself. Their initial curiosity had been satisfied, and it became the focus of their lives.
What drives your curiosity? Have you ever had a moment of inquisitiveness that piqued your interest and led to a change in your life? What made you take an interest in the Bible, Jesus, or religion in general? Have your questions been answered, or have they fostered more questions to which you are still seeking answers? How could you promote a curiosity about Jesus in others?
The disciples’ and others’ initial curiosity about Jesus eventually led to death for some of them, but they stayed faithful. Thousands are still facing death every day for their faith. I’ve noticed that many Christians are positive about Heaven and their desire to be there, yet they do whatever they can to prolong their lives here on earth. I wonder – what would Jesus think about that?
I’m curious about many things, many of which I may never have my itch relieved by some type of intellectual Benadryl. I still have my inquisitiveness and often raise a prayer of gratitude for computers that allow me to check things without going to an extensive library far away or even getting out of my pajamas. I’m ready for Heaven whenever God pushes my “Eject from earth” button. Meanwhile, I will investigate, like my cats, any new thing that comes across my path. That includes matters of faith, human nature, culture, and deficiencies in what we preach and what we actually do. That should keep me busy for a few decades.
Image: Curious Sama. Photo property of Author. 2007.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.