Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Questions and Answers

When you think about Jesus, what often comes to mind is the kind of teaching that He did with authority, the words He spoke on, say, the Mount, His absolute statements of absolute truth. But read the Gospels again and this time, notice something else: notice how often it is that Jesus asks questions. 

Yes, some are rhetorical questions. Some are questions meant to antagonize one group or another. But many are honest questions, too. For example, He asks the disciples who others say He is...and who they say He is. He wants to know what they think. 

But He also asks questions to make persons think more deeply. He wants them to consider their own thoughts and the ideas that got them there. He wants them to say the words, not just to hear them, so that they have a real force behind them, something personal and meaningful. Yes, even His questions show His wisdom.

And they always have. 

You remember that story when Jesus was 12 and His family took Him to the big celebration in the big city? On the way home, they figured He was just somewhere in the pack, and when they finally started to earnestly look for Him, they found Him back in the Temple with the learned men, who were marveling at His wisdom. 

What was He doing in the Temple that made the men marvel? Was He teaching? Nope. Was He reading advanced scripts? Nope. Was He performing elaborate rituals? Nope. He was asking questions

He was asking questions in the Temple with a bunch of Torah scholars, and His questions made them marvel at His wisdom. His questions, not His answers. 

We think that so much of life is about having all of the answers, but the truth is, it's about being engaged enough to know what questions to ask. Be observant, be really observant. Invest yourself in what's going on around you. Ask probing questions, meant to dig at something deeper because your questions reveal what it is that you're really seeing. Your questions say more about what you're involved with than your answers. They show your insight better than any response you could ever give. 

Questions let you live in a space that you don't fully understand. They show your willingness to be uncomfortable for awhile, especially if it means you get to swim deeper. Most of us, we're comfortable on the surface with just what we know, just what we like. But those who question, they reveal that something in their soul is not satisfied. Something wants more. They want more. They're looking at a puzzle without all the pieces or with something that doesn't quite fit, and they want to know...they want to know more. They want to know what it is. 

Some have said that we shouldn't question, especially when it comes to God. That we should have "enough faith" that we don't need questions, but I don't buy that. Questions help us go deeper when nothing else can. They help others to engage with us from their own vulnerabilities and create real connections. You learn a lot more about Jesus in a dialogue with Him than you do if He just sits on the mountain preaching at you and telling you what to do and to think and to be. You learn a lot more about yourself from what you're willing to ask than what you claim to know. 

And when it comes to God, this is important, too: if you never ask questions, how is He ever supposed to answer you?
So ask. Because your questions are important, and they often say more about you than your answers ever will. 

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