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Friday, August 18, 2006

The questions we ask...

What are the most important questions to you? Take a second. (Yes, please assume the pose of The Thinker in the above picture!)

What questions press your mind and trouble you? What questions keep you up late at night?

Or maybe they are not questions that demand an immediate answer. Maybe they are questions that have been nagging for months or years or even for most of your life. Maybe these questions are relegated to the back of your mind for long periods of time only to make their appearance and vex your mind with their persistence.

So, what are the questions that you ask?

We are often told that it is our beliefs that matter most. And what are our beliefs? These are typically the answers to the questions that we ask. For example, we wonder whether there is a heaven or hell or if there is a God and a Devil out there somewhere. And so we give it some thought and when we have our answer then we also have our beliefs.

Questions + Answers = Beliefs.

We are often told that it is our beliefs that matter most. The answers to the questions, these are what matter most.

Now, I don’t want to undermine how important our beliefs are. Nor do I want to claim that the answers we have are less than meaningful. But I wonder if the questions we ask are not equally as important as the answers we wind up with.

First of all, the questions we ask determine what kind of answers we have. Earlier we asked about heaven and hell and about God and the Devil. But what if someone is simply not interested in asking these questions? Well, if they have no interest in the questions, then they have no interest in the answers. Such a person will likely remain agnostic about whether or not there is a heaven or hell.

But what if there is a heaven and a hell? And what if we simply don’t care to ask the questions? Well, this could be a problem. But even the reverse is true. What if there is no heaven and hell? What happens to people like me who care very deeply about these types of things? The point is that the questions that we care about are just as important as the answers we manufacture.

But there is something even more here regarding our topic. The questions that we ask are even more important than the answers because the questions we care about come from the deepest parts of our mind and soul. Let’s ask the question again: What questions keep you up at night? What questions make you toss and turn? These are the deepest things of our heart.

Think about this another way. There are many who simply go through the motions of religion. They have a few beliefs that they believe strongly. They may even attend a church. Or they may even be members in good standing. But I want to know what makes them lose sleep! Does their religion keep them up at night? Or is it a convenient set of beliefs tucked away in some far closet of their mind?

From my reading of Scripture God strikes me as the kind who takes a person who is deeply committed and likes to shake them. And so he goes to Abraham and tells him (doesn’t even have the decency to ask!) to offer his only son as a sacrifice. And he takes Moses, a guy perfectly content to live out his days with his family and his sheep, and puts his life on a crash course with a group of people who will make his life miserable. Or take Job. Talk about being shaken up! Job is now the measuring rod for all human suffering!

Have we digressed from our topic of the importance of questions? Well, the point here is that when God has someone who is committed God rattles their cage and rocks their boat. And if we really are committed then all this rattling and shaking makes us question. And if we are really committed and if we are really honest we will often find that the questions have a hard time finding answers. Big questions call for big answers.

Questioning is a part of calling forth the deepest things or our souls. Questioning does call forth the deepest things of our souls. What we care about the most finds its way into our minds in the form of questions. This is why our questions tell us more about ourselves than our answers.


Lindsay said...

WoW! I really think you hit the nail on the head, Jon. So many times "we" are all caught up in the answers instead of the questions, that we miss the big picture. Yet, the questions many times remained hidden because of fear.
I have found myself in similar situations, because I felt "wrong", or not "strong" as a Christian, student, or even as friend for not having answers, but just questions.

Dawn said...

I love this post! I've met way too many Christians whose faith seems a bit superficial, because they don't want to ask the tough questions.

Our questions don't always lead us to definite answers, but hopefully they'll lead us to God and the Bible to find a firmness to our faith that wasn't there before.

Lee Strobel says that a faith that has no doubt (and therefore questions) is not faith at all.

John said...

ALL questions have at their base a fundamental doubt of the all pervasive Divine Reality.
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3. www.dabase.net/rgcbpobk.htm

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