The Greek philosopher Pythagoras divided men into three classes:
- Seekers after knowledge;
- Seekers after honor;
- Seekers after gain.
I wonder why he failed to notice two other classes: those who are not seeking anything and those who are seeking after God.
Let us add them to the list:
- Seekers after nothing. These are the human vegetables who live by their glands and their instincts. I refer to the millions of normal persons who have allowed their magnificent intellectual equipment to wither away from lack of exercise. Their reading matter is the sports page and the comic section; their music is whatever is popular and handy—and loud!
- Seekers after God. I am thinking of men and women who are God-hungry souls though their numbers may not be large. By nature they are no better than the rest of mankind, and by practice they have sometimes been worse. The one sign of who they are is their insatiable thirst after the Source of their being. Thank the Lord for seekers after God and their destiny lies in the hand of the One who gave His only begotten Son to die for the life of the world.
I would put the first four classes of people under the banner of “self-seekers.” The outward manifestation of what they are seeking betrays the inward emptiness of their being. Human beings want to know who they are and why they are here. Most try to define who they are by the things they desire and those things are what they seek after. But should their self-seeking world ever stop, they then realize that they are not their iPhone or their Mercedes or their Boss. And they are left with the question “Who am I?”
Millions try to answer that question on social media through a fictitious version of themselves. When people like you and want to be your friend on Facebook, etc., the feeling is “This is who I want to be because I am liked and I have friends.” Again, if their self-seeking world stops, they realize the person they put on social media is the person they want to be and not the person they are. Most that I have talked to or counseled with believe if they put their real selves on social media nobody would like them or would want to be their friend. They are self-seeking, but they are seeking the wrong thing for their self. They are seeking an identity that others will like and not seeking an identity they like and are at peace with, even if nobody else likes them
That brings us to Tozer’s fifth class of seeker: seekers after God. Around 400 AD, Augustine of Hippo wrote: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine had tried to find his identity in his century’s version of social media. He went through a succession of desperate searches for fulfillment: excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, dissipation and distractions—futilities that left him so weary of himself he could only cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” For him, and for all who want to find their self-identity in God, the wait was not long. He found his identity in God and he found rest for his soul. People today are laboring to find out who they are. Two thousand years ago Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” With that rest comes contentment.
Any self-identity that does not bring contentment, peace and rest to your soul is inherently false if Augustine can be believed. And he can be believed because he only paraphrased what Jesus had said.
The connection between who we are and why we are here is addressed in the final chapter of my book The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be, which is titled “Life: The Meaning of the Story.”