“Questions” seemed to keep coming up for me last week. It was at the heart of the passage I preached on yesterday morning. It showed up in several of my devotional readings during the week. Questions of faith came up in quite a few conversations. And they were part of a conference I attended on Friday. I have an interesting relationship with questions. Growing up, I wasn’t one who liked to raise my hand to ask questions. Often it was because I didn’t want to “look stupid” if I asked a dumb question. I also remember one of my freshman-year professors responding to a question from a student who said, “this might be a dumb question” by interrupting him and saying, “There are no dumb questions, just dumb students who ask them.” Within the church, I’ve also had experiences where asking questions seemed more like a lack of faith rather than earnestly trying to understand and grow deeper. There is most definitely a branch of the Christian church today that would prefer that people blindly follow rather than wrestling with questions.
Yet, the rich young ruler (who the children of the church on Sunday named “Ben”) came to Jesus with a question. He came asking what feels like is one of those “big questions” – the ones that keep you awake at night. He’s rich, he’s young, he has power, but it may be that for him, something is missing and so he comes and kneels before Jesus and asks his big question. While he clearly doesn’t like Jesus’ response to his question, I am grateful that he is still willing to ask. I was sharing in my sermon about the foundations of being a disciple and the first thing I noted was a willingness to ask questions and not to follow blindly. A faithful disciple is regularly trying to understand more and more and is willing to be open and vulnerable with those s/he is journeying with, whether that is a teacher/rabbi or they are others who walk alongside.
This past Friday and Saturday, an amazing group of people gathered to “Conspire.” (The picture is me sneaking a peek through one of the side windows). While there was a Christian foundation for the event, there were people gathered from a wide spectrum of traditions and experiences. They were people who shared a common heart for transformation of their local communities. It was beautiful to take in and experience and to learn. As I listened and as I knew the stories of quite a few of the people who were there, I also know that many came from a place where they had come to question the central ideas that they used to hold to. Questions arose around faith, church, ministry, mission, community, and so forth. But the questions didn’t lead them away but led them deeper and grew their hearts and their passions for this transforming work.
I shared in my sermon yesterday that I feel I have been trying to intentionally walk in faith since October of 1990, so for 28 or so years. While my early years of faith were ones of blind following and a reluctance to ask questions, I have found that my questions have increased as I have matured and grown deeper in my faith. And yet, I feel more secure in my faith than I ever have before. I guess that’s one of those paradoxes of faith.
But I am grateful for the questions that rumble around inside me and I am grateful for the questions that others have. I am grateful for the ways that all of these questions help to push us into deeper seeking and greater growth towards God and one another.