Here we are in the middle of our Lenten Journey. So, how’s it going? How’s those Lenten disciplines working out for you? Did you choose something that would improve your relationship with Jesus Christ? Hopefully, each of us is journeying on a road that will lead us to a greater understanding of our faith. And it’s very natural that it be a time of questioning. You see, questions are important! Without questions the learning process develops no depth. And when there are no questions concerning a person’s faith, it becomes a Blind Faith, a weak faith, one that is easily distracted or easily mislead.
Questions are important, yet it’s true that some questions can be loaded, while others are pure and simple. However, no matter what the question is, questions do have a way of revealing a lot about the questioner.
Just suppose Jesus Christ stood before you in the flesh and you had a chance to ask him just one question. What would it be? Well, there’s a place in the Gospel of Mark which describes just such a setting in the 12th chapter, verses 28-34. (You can pause here and read it.) So, Jesus was in the midst of a crowd of people, having a question and answer time. Undoubtedly, they asked many questions that day, but let’s look at this one.
First, we need to understand that in this Q & A time, and others, Jesus didn’t dismiss some questions as irrelevant, or dumb, or pointless, though it may be true that some of them were just that. He honored every question because he honored every questioner. That’s because any kind of question is okay to bring before God.
Now occasionally we bring honest questions which also reveal a misunderstanding of the way God works. As in the student who asks, "If I pray hard enough, will God see that I pass my English Test?" What’s the right answer here? A simple yes won't do. Because the way God works is to put you to work, to encourage you to use your mind to learn. God will see you pass your test, but not without your hard work. We have to guard against this kind of questioning.
So, will we focus on the smaller questions of faith like: "Where did Cain's wife come from?" "What does the Mark of the Beast mean?" "When will the end of the world come?" Of course, all of these are legitimate questions, but Christ might respond to us with equal impatience. Will he not measure us by the size of our questions, and say, "In this world of great need, of people crying out for God's love, is this really the question you want to ask? Is it what concerns you the most?"
The purpose of a good, healthy, faith is to grow bigger questions. If our faith is vital and moving, it’s going to cause our question to grow, and us with them. A mind, a faith, is stretched and expanded by questions that lead us out to the far edge of knowledge and commitment. Our faith will take us just as far as our questions direct. The man who asked his question in today's Scripture found this out. His question was as wide as the world of faith, "Which commandment is first of all?" And after an exchange of comments on this great question, Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Mark 12:34)
It's that kind of statement that makes it worthwhile to grow bigger questions. Remember, an effective Christian faith does not answer every question, but it does lead to bigger questions. Every one of us can, in a real sense, measure our faith by the size question it requires that we ask. Ask little questions and we will get little answers. Ask big questions, and we find ourselves, as Jesus said, "... not far from the kingdom of God."
The value of asking questions is not in the answers that come, but in the assurance and growth that comes from asking them.
Therefore, as we continue in our Lenten Journey, let it be A Time of Questioning. Let us dare to ask “Good Questions” of our Lord, so that our faith might grow.
Prayer: Lord, help us to not be afraid to ask good questions, and be open to the questions that you ask of us. Pour out your wisdom and grace upon us. Amen.
Rev. Ralph S. Wearstler, Regional Elder (District 15)