The Disruptive Power of Questions

For the last six months, our sermon texts have all involved questions—questions like these:

Do you understand what you are reading? (Acts 8:30)
Can these bones live? (Ezekiel 37:3)
Am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis 4:9)
Do you love me? (John 21:15,16,&17)
Who told you? (Genesis 3:11)
Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)

These six questions, in and of themselves, contain a lifetime’s worth of transformative power. Yet, we looked at about twenty five questions, not just six.

We split it up into three sections. During Lent, we examined questions near the time of Jesus’ passion. We called it Looking for the Answers Listening for the Questions.

After Easter, we looked at questions from the resurrection texts. We called that section Questions: God’s Invitation to Intimacy.

During the summer months, we looked at a wide swath of other questions. We called that final section Holy Disruption: Encountering a Questioning God.

After the first section, I sat with some people and asked, “what are we learning about the power of questions as opposed to simply searching for answers?” In a blog post from April 13th (see here), I noted some of the observations:

GOD HAS PROVOCATIVE QUESTIONS FOR US
QUESTIONS HELP US MATURE
QUESTIONS HELP US PROCESS OUR LIFE EXPERIENCES
QUESTIONS HAVE GREATER CAPACITY TO LINGER THAN ANSWERS DO
QUESTIONS AVOID THE TRAP OF THE QUICK FIX


In this blog post, I am back with more observations. In August, I asked members of the Consistory and of the congregation this question:

As we come to the end of this sermon series, what are you taking away?
(i.e., what lessons have you learned? what impact has it had on your faith? Is there a particular question that keeps lingering?)

Here are a few of the responses I received:

  • It’s helpful simply to realize how many questions there are
  • Jesus asks a ton of questions, and they are provocative questions. If we want to be followers of Jesus, we better learn to ask questions, and good questions
  • Nothing examines our hearts quite like a question does
  • This is a very rich way to enter passages of the Bible (i.e., when we look for the question and let the question examine us instead of us examining the scriptures only with our questions)
  • The presence of questions provides permission for us to ask our questions (AND God’s questions always seem to be better than our questions)
  • Questions help us avoid standard tropes. For instance, if it merely said “you are your brother’s keeper,” we would turn that into a faith statement that would eventually lose meaning. Since it is a question—”Am I my brother’s keeper?“—it haunts us over and over again. (Somehow, I can run from instructions easier than I can run from questions)
  • Questions have the power to hit each of us where we’re at. Thus, the same question can hit each of us differently.
  • Questions continue to be applicable across time — they hit differently at age 20, 30, 40, 50, etc.
  • Questions force us out of our assumptions and create space for wonder
  • Questions seem so much more respectful of adults. They make us think through things and own them for ourselves (rather than simply being spoon-feed as though we are babies)
  • Questions often point us to a person instead of an answer
  • Questions reflect an honest view of life (because life is rarely simple, rarely black-and-white)

What about you?

What did you take away from this series?

What would you add to this list?

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