Jesus asked them this question….
– Matthew 22:41
How many questions have you asked today? A recent study found that the average 4-year-old girl asks 390 questions per day. The average adult asks less than 120. Which raises the question, why do we ask fewer questions the older we get? I suppose it could be because we know so many more answers, but I suspect there’s more to it.
The educational system I was reared in rewarded me for coming up with the right answers, not for coming up with good questions. And unlike 4-year-old girls, we seem to become increasingly self-conscious about our ignorance as we grow older. For instance, I recently heard a presentation along with a dozen other people and the presenter used an acronym I didn’t know. I didn’t ask for clarification because everyone else in the group seemed to know what the acronym meant and I didn’t want to be perceived as ignorant.
Questions are at the heart of growth, including spiritual growth. Too often, IMHO, Christians have opened the bible to find answers rather than allow it to provoke us to deeper questions (IMHO stands for In My Humble Opinion, just in case you were afraid to ask). While the bible certainly does provide answers to many things, I have found it increasingly helpful to approach the text with a deeper curiosity. The more questions I allow the text to provoke in me, the more meaning seems to unfold from those ancient words.
Ever notice how often Jesus asked people questions, especially in answer to their questions? In fact, Jesus asked 307 questions in the Gospels. In addition, it seems to me that Jesus’ parables were told, not to give clear answers but to raise deeper questions in the hearer.
There was a time when I thought spiritual growth was all about having the answers, and that my job as a pastor was to provide those answers to the people I served. Today I believe that spiritual growth is more about asking the kinds of questions that change the way we think about God, ourselves and the world around us. Oddly enough, on my own faith journey I have more questions than ever, and more peace and joy too.
Not sure what it means to allow a passage of scripture to raise questions? Click here.
Want to get started on the journey? Read a passage like Luke 15:11-32 and rather than trying to figure out what the story means, write down every question that the story raises within you. Leave a comment and share your experience.
Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN