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We’ve entered a
new phase in our family life. Penny has started to ask questions. When we pick
Peter up from the train, she’ll say, “How was your day, Dad?” Or when she meets
someone new she’ll say, “Hi. What’s your name?” And of course there is the ever-present
childhood question, “Why?” I hear that one about every other minute.
Even though the
“why” questions exhaust me, I know I should be encouraged by Penny’s
inquisitiveness. Learning to ask questions is a part of growing up. For adults,
almost every time we greet one another we do so using a standard question: “How
are you?” Most people ask dozens of questions every day, questions that range
from those intended to gather simple facts to the ones that inquire of our
souls. We ask questions when we need help or information. We ask questions when
we’re confused. We ask about mundane things: What’s the weather forecast? What
are we having for dinner? We ask more personal questions when we care about
getting to know someone better: How’s work? How’s your family? And we ask,
perhaps with less frequency, more profound questions: Why do I exist? Is there
any purpose to life? Questions serve two basic purposes: they gain information
and they build relationships.
When Jesus walked
the earth, he asked questions all the time, and people asked him questions all
the time. Here’s a list of some of the questions people asked Jesus: How do
you know me? Don’t you care if we drown? What is truth? Are you the one that
was to come? How can we know the way? The fact that other people routinely
asked Jesus questions suggests that they realized that he was someone to help
clear up their confusion about life; someone who could give them vital
information; someone who cared about their well-being.
And consider some of the questions that Jesus
asks people: Do you want to get well? Why are you troubled? Who do you say
that I am? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? The
fact that Jesus asked questions of others suggests that he wanted to engage in
conversation, not simply dictate his perspective on life.
For the next few
months on Tuesday mornings, I’m going to take a look at one of these places in
the Gospels, either where people ask questions of Jesus or where he asks
questions of those around him. The God of the Bible is not a God who commands
us to accept His existence without question or silences us when we have doubts,
fears, and concerns. Rather, the God of the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ,
invites relationship, invites questions, invites exploration. I hope these reflections
will provide a way to look at a God who permits us, even invites us, to ask