- David Defries
Asking the Right Questions
I've been asking a lot of questions lately. A lot of these are larger questions about society like "What is going on with COVID?", "What do I think about the government's latest response to the COVID pandemic?", and "Where is our country headed?" There are also a bunch of more immediate questions in there as well, mostly pertaining to my personal situation or pertaining to the church that I'm responsible for. These questions are more along the lines of "What do I do about my children's behaviour?", "How do I increase the level of peace in my house?", and "What do I need to do to improve church?" All of these questions are good questions. They're valid things to think about and ponder in my own heart.
However, I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that got me questioning in an entirely new direction. It caused me to re-evaluate my entire foundation of questioning and think it through from a different lens.
In our society, we're used to seeing polarized opinion about what to do about the COVID crisis. Some people want more and more restrictions out of a desire to ensure public health. Some people think it's all a hoax. We're used to different and competing political ideologies. This usually splits between liberal or progressive policies more about redistribution of wealth and social justice versus conservative or libertarian policies about freedom, small government, and moral standards. Each person in our society, whether consciously or not, is continually asked questions about what they think about these issues. These frameworks affect our thinking and constantly inform what questions we ask.
But Jesus didn't do that.
Jesus constantly rebuked the people around Him for the questions they were asking, because they weren't asking about what was most important. The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus' time were concerned about rules, regulations, and keeping their prominence in society. They asked questions like “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (Mark 7:5) Jesus' response was to ask why they rejected the commandments of God to adhere to the traditions emplaced by men. Jesus' disciples weren't much better. They were focused on their immediate needs and who was better and would get a better position in the Kingdom Jesus was ushering in. Jesus' disciples asked questions like “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) when confronted by a storm that hit them while on the water. He rebuked the storm, brought peace to the waters, and asked better questions. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
You see, Jesus kept asking questions like "What is God the Father wanting to do?" "Where do I see God moving?" "How do I accomplish His will?" These are questions rooted in the gospel, the good news of God's plan of salvation for His people. These are questions asked out of a rooted identity as God's Son. These questions were aware of the mission that Jesus was on and pursuing the successful completion of that mission.
Jesus asked better questions. Instead of the questions that everyone else was asking, the current issues of the day, Jesus focused on God's will, His own identity, and His own mission. Jesus' questions cut across society, across the polarizing opinions of the day that were inferior to the reality and plan of God the Father. Jesus doesn't necessarily care about the questions of COVID, Conservative or Liberal, Democrat or Republican, etc. He cares about the questions of who God is, who you are as a son or daughter of the living God, and are you accomplishing His will on Earth? How well are we loving on people? How well are we serving those around us? What can we do to heal the sick and mend the broken? Our questions need to be more about our identity as children of God and how we accomplish our mission to represent Jesus well and build His Kingdom.
It is only in these kind of Godly questions that the other questions of life and society can be answered. Sometimes we'll agree with our societies answer, sometimes we won't. Whether we do or not, we won't be swayed by public opinion or brow-beaten into silence because our conclusions are popular. We can't afford to let ourselves be distracted by all of the noise around us so that we go back to asking an inferior set of questions, because our answers will end up skewed and based on an inferior reality. We'll end up diverted from our identity and God's plan and purposes.
So what questions are you asking these days? Are they focused on yourself? Are they focused on everything that society around you is asking? Or are you asking the bigger questions… the same kind that Jesus continually asked?
We need to start asking better questions.