Why Should We Ask More Questions?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, November 15, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

  Have you ever had someone ask you a question, and although you knew the answer instantly, you struggled to give them a reply because the answer was forcing you re-think what you believe or know?  Eastern culture is more used to this type of conversation than those of us in the West.

  We tend to state our opinion and whatever we think are facts to support that opinion, and then argue with others by continuously stating what we think.  We usually ask questions for information, accusation, or to express a lack of confidence in someone’s authority.  Just read any social media or blog discussion and you will see what I mean.  Rarely do we ask questions for discovery, or for the benefit of someone else’s discovery.

  Ray Vander Laan shares the story of a woman who went with him on one of his Israel tours.  He had just taught the group about the differences between Eastern and Western cultures.  He explained how concepts and abstract ideas are used in the West, and how questions and concrete pictures are used more in communication in the East.  He also shared that entire conversations and lessons could be taught in the East, just by asking questions.

  One of the women in the group was having trouble grasping what he was trying to say, and struggling with how it changed her understanding of Jesus’s conversations in the Bible.  Shortly after Ray was done teaching, the group walked into a market and they were each exploring the different shops.  This woman went into a shop that sold paintings.  An older Jewish man was displaying his painting for sale, and was in the process of painting a picture when she walked in.   She complimented him on his work, and asked some questions about different ones.  Then after complimenting him again about how beautiful his artwork was, she said, “Can I ask you which one is your favorite?”

  The old man paused and gently looked at the woman and said, “Are you married?” She was confused because he wasn’t answering her question, but she answered, “Yes, why?”

  (It was important that she asked another question, because if she had just said, “Yes,” the old man would have nodded and then just gone back to his painting.  Without a return question, it is assumed the person is not open to learning, or having discussion and the conversation ends.)

  He said, “Do you have any children?” To that she replied,  “Yes, I have three.  Why?”

    (She was still confused, but at least she asked another “why” question.)

  He looked at her and said, “And which one is your favorite?”

As the point of his question dawned on her, it bypassed her mind, and went straight to her heart – connecting with something deep inside of her as a mother.  There was no way to love one of them to the exclusion of the others, no way to have a favorite without wounding the others, and each of them loved for who they uniquely were.  So it was also for him as an artist.    She ran out of the shop with tears in her eyes, and told Ray and the group, “I just met Jesus in that shop.”

  In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus walks into church on the day of rest (Sabbath).  There is a man there with a shriveled hand.  There are religious leaders there who have wanted to accuse Jesus of, well, anything they could. They wanted to get him in trouble because he disturbed their way of living and believing.  They wanted a way to prove he was not the savior and discredit him.  Jesus knew what they were thinking and he tells the man with the shriveled hand to stand up in front of everyone.  Then Jesus asked a question, “Which is lawful to do on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

  It was against the law to work on the Sabbath.  God commanded that people rest from their work and spend the day in thanks and worship of God.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had taken that commandment to extreme levels and defined all kinds of things as “work” in order to avoid breaking God’s command.  They had so fearfully legalized everything, that mercy and compassion were completely excluded from life – especially on the Sabbath, a day devoted to God.  Jesus’ question exposes the fact that their extended definitions of God’s law missed the simplicity and purpose of God’s command.

  Verse 5 says that Jesus “looked around at them in anger and was deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.”  Was Jesus angry about them being human and making the mistake of being legalistic?  Well, I am sure He wasn’t happy over it, but I think something deeper is going on here.  Think about it; how many of them asked a question after his question?  They remained silent.  Why?

  Why do we remain silent when we are faced with a question that exposes a lifestyle we are living, a belief we have, or choice we have made is out of sync with what we know is RIGHT?  How many times has Jesus asked you a question, either in the Bible or from the mouth of another person, and you remained silent? Or worse, you started to argue and justify your position because you assumed the answer was meant to hurt you, shame you, belittle you, accuse you, etc.

  Look at what Jesus’ intention was: He heals the man’s hand.  His intention was to heal the man’s shriveled hand, but I believe it was also to heal the religious leaders and rescue them from the trap of their own legalism and fear.  They chose to stay afraid, inside their beliefs that protected their way of living – and no one else’s.  And the end of that passage in Mark tells us they became bitter, and plotted for a way to kill Jesus.

  Questions have a way of penetrating straight to our soul, because when someone asks a question WE are the ones answering it.  A good question exposes our thoughts, motives, desires, etc. in ways that debate and argument cannot.  When we answer a question, even without speaking it, we instantly come face to face with who we really are and how we really think.  Sometimes the inner conflict we feel in that moment is very painful, and we may be tempted to blame or try to silence the person who asked the question. In those moments, we need to recognize we are facing ourselves.  We need to be willing to grow, make corrections, reexamine, etc. Otherwise we may be tempted to act like the religious leaders and try to silence Jesus.

  Look again at what Jesus did to the shriveled hand.   Look at what he did in giving the religious leaders an opportunity to course correct. Jesus’ intention is always for good. Whether He asks a question through the Bible, through His Holy Spirit by tapping on our conscience, or through one of His followers, the goal of that question is always to bring about what is good.  Are you willing to believe that?

  Take a moment and reflect: Questions can lead us to Truth, and deep questions can lead us to freedom, restoration, and healing.

How are you responding to the questions Jesus is asking you right now?

Do you hear them as accusations?  Do you hear loving correction?  Do you hear an invitation to a different path?

Are you teachable and willing to ask more questions or dig deeper?

Would you be willing to dig into the Bible for every place Jesus asked a question, and explore the answer (or other questions) it provokes?