When I was a kid, I asked questions. A lot.
I mean, all of the time.
My parents now laugh about the fact that they would often reach their limit of answers and struggle to maintain their sanity. (which, to their ever-living-credit I never remember them exasperated or frustrated.)
But they aren’t abnormal. Having a son and a daughter myself, I know that I have a future filled with a million questions.
As a church, we’re beginning a sermon series on some of the difficult questions that comes along side, or before one comes to faith. And it has me wondering what our response is to people when they come with questions; especially questions to which we don’t have answers, or questions that make us feel uncomfortable.
The truth is that there is something about questions, asked often, that puts us on the defensive, or that makes us feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because we don’t have the answers. Maybe we struggle with the questions being asked, and we don’t like to be reminded of our uncertainty.
So, instead of engaging the question we brush them aside under the belief that people just need more “faith.”
And so people are left asking, wondering, questioning alone. Feeling their questions are not welcomed and unwanted. That their questioning will keep them from their Heavenly Father.
As a church, we are all guilty of this, aren’t we?
Can you imagine the beautiful ways God might move if the church engaged our culture and our people’s questions concerns and doubts?
In my experience, creating a culture of questions will do three things:
It will remind us how big our God really is.
Every Sunday we worship, pray to, and talk about a God who created the heavens, the earth, conquered death, and offers that power to us. However, that is where our practical belief of God ends. We become afraid that a question is too big, and God is too small. (Maybe we’d never actually say it this way…but we all have felt this, and wrestled with this.)
When we embrace big questions it gives God the chance to come through in big ways. Our questions remind us that in all ways, we serve a King who is all-powerful, and a Father who is all loving. And that we can come to him with everything.
Remind us how small we really are.
Let’s face it. We get a little big in the britches sometimes, don’t we? We think we’re big stuff, and that we have all the answers. Armed with this belief, questions become threatening to our worldview because, the more questions are asked, the higher the chance we will come across a question we don’t have answers for.
These questions remind us that we’re human, imperfect and in need of a Father who is all-powerful, all-knowing and always present. It’s a reminder that we can crawl into his lap and trust we are in the safest place in the world.
Teach people that they can be themselves before God.
There is nothing more beautiful than a child’s innocence. They have no shame in their not knowing. A child just wants answers to what they don’t know. They are curious, and they ask. There isn’t a belief that they need everything to be in order before coming to God, and they don’t believe their self-worth is tied in what they know. They know they belong. Period. And it’s that belonging that gives them permission to ask.
So, as a church, let’s be a place that gives people permission to ask questions. Let’s not be afraid of what might happen if we don’t know the answer. We can rest in the truth that our Daddy knows…and that our only responsibility is to point people to him.
He will take care of the rest.