Summary: How do we respond to the questions of life? How did Jesus respond?
It seems that questions fill our daily lives. Everywhere we go, we are confronted by questions. At home it might be very simple things like,
“What’s for tea?” or,
“When’s Grandma coming?”,
“How can I afford it?”,
“Who does she think she is?”,
“What was that referee doing?”,
“Why can’t I have one?”
And the one dreaded by men waiting outside fitting rooms,
“Well, what do you think?”
In the media, questions are what seems to generate most interest, be they questions about the leadership of the Conservative party, questions about the integrity of Labour Ministers, questions about the IRA decommissioning of weapons. Question Time and Any Questions remain deeply popular, despite the frequent lack of answers. Many people find the most interesting parts of the news when people are interviewed, especially when they’re asked difficult questions.
Questions are an intrinsic part of our lives today, but sometimes they drive us to distraction. How often have you come close to cheerfully strangling a little voice that pipes up with, “Are we nearly there yet?”? How often has a simple question induced panic, when a small voice asks, “How are babies made?”, in the middle of the queue in Sainsburys.
Whatever, we may think, questions are a key way of exploring, learning and developing, for children and for adults. Some churches don’t encourage asking questions. I want to say that I think it’s vital for the church to encourage people to ask questions, to explore and find out, be that about the Bible, about God, about the Church. Asking questions in church is not a bad thing. It isn’t a sign of weakness, or of lack of faith, or of an unwillingness to accept what you’re told, or anything of the kind. Asking questions is a good way to help us learn more of God, understand more of God, and so come closer to God.
Asking questions can seem very dangerous. In Yes Minister, Sir Humphrey Appleby, the civil servant, always warned everyone against asking a question of which you didn’t already know the answer. Perhaps by asking questions, you might get an answer that you don’t expect, don’t like, or even find that there is no answer. None-the-less, it’s still important to be brave enough to ask questions. We may not know or find the answer to every question, but that doesn’t mean that there are no answers to any questions, or that we shouldn’t ask them.
Leonardo Boff, who is a liberation theologian from South America, said that, “God does not answer all our questions, but in Jesus God enters into the very heart of our questions”.
Many of us are probably asking questions about that tragic road accident that was on the front page of this week’s paper. “How can God, if there is such a thing, allow the tragic death of two small children?” I would be insulting your intelligence if I attempted to answer that question. It is one of life’s unanswerable questions. There is no answer, but there is a response. The response is that God provides family and friends to offer love and support, and that is where God is. But we are still left without an answer. One of the challenges of being a Christian is not about finding answers to all our questions, but about learning to live with the questions.