Sometimes they are trivial. At other times quite challenging. Some are beyond comprehension. Others can be off the wall. At times they are helpful, on occasion insensitive or useless. They can be fun or upsetting. Delightful, enticing, or off-putting. Here are just a few examples of what I am talking about.
What would you like for dessert? What should I wear? Can you explain metaphysics to me? What would you like to do? Will you marry me? What happened to your makeup? What is your favorite run on Snowmass? Why would you go out with him? Is a unified theory of physics possible? What’s with your hair? What does this blood test result mean? If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
Questions. We all have them. They are a universal human experience. They are part of what it means to be a human being. Some of us ponder the big ones, others are content with ones that seemingly have answers. But wherever and whoever we are, all of us ask questions. From where I sit, this is a very good thing.
As I think about things, it strikes me that much of what is wrong in the world comes not from having questions, but from supposing we have right answers.
Too much certainty. Too much confidence. Too much of an ego. These things lead to really big problems and a ton of collateral pain.
I am a big fan of questions. Having questions forces us to listen. To have to sit in that place of not knowing. Questions can help us get over ourselves. They also move us toward being more dependent upon God and other people. Questions help us grow because I believe we learn more from our experiences living in the gray than those places that are black and white.
Jesus was a master at asking questions. You might even say the four Gospels are a collection of questions, Jesus questions. It is through the questions that Jesus asked that often caused a person’s life to fundamentally change. When Jesus asked questions, the reactions were quite varied.
In response to his questions, some people paused, others re-evaluated, some had to face truths they didn’t want to look at, others were transformed, some changed direction, others learned they were quite stuck in their ways. But whatever the response, Jesus’ questions were potent and potentially life altering to those that heard them.
As you read any of the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I invite you to pay close attention to the questions Jesus asked. When we do so, we begin to see the story of Jesus in new ways. When encountering a question Jesus asked, I think it is helpful to ask ourselves some questions. Questions such as, “Why did he ask that question? Who was he asking? Why? And what might Jesus be asking each of us through the questions he asked those right in front of him?”
As we spend time with Jesus’ questions, my hunch is that some will be more relevant than others at various points in our lives. And the wonderful effect of spending time with Jesus’ questions, is that we create the space and the room to spend time with Jesus in ways that bring about what we may need to pay attention to the most.