Being a father of three, I hear these words or a version of them constantly: “Daddy, how come…”; “Daddy, why does…”, “Daddy, do you…” The amount of questions seems inexhaustible, and many times, I find myself thinking, “Would you just stop asking questions?” Yes, I am completely aware of the irony of the situation. But, questions are important. Very important.
I truly believe that as human beings, we never stop learning. Even though our bodies stop growing and start aging, our minds and intellects continue to develop and grow through our interactions in the world. Something is always out there that we just don’t know enough about and could stand some brushing up on. Those of us with internet access know that there exists a whole virtual world of knowledge and opinions that far exceed the capacity of the human mind to assimilate. In my opinion, this is not a bad thing. It allows us to stay sharp as we engage points of view and facts that do not necessarily conform with our understandings and views. Such attempts to reconcile, change, or reject keeps our synapses sharp. (For those of you who don’t know what a synapse is, I have just made my point about the necessity of continued learning.)
As a pastor, it is further my belief that our faith lives are in constant flux. Contrary to the belief of some, you never have your life of faith all figured out. You never can figure all of Christianity out. Just when you think you’ve got it down, another insight is revealed, another interpretation is offered, or God speaks to you in a way that sheds light on something that you have struggled with. Yes, our faith constantly ebbs and grows.
Now, there are those who might like to argue with me about that statement. Christianity is nearly 2000 years old. In that 2000 years, we have covered all there is to cover forward, backward, and forward again. There is nothing new under the sun. “Jesus loves me, this I know. What more do I need to know?” The teachings in the Bible have not changed. If my faith is based upon what is revealed in the Bible, how can things continue to ebb and grow? These trains of thought are very similar to some of the folks written about in the pages of Scripture: especially those who questioned Jesus’ teachings and actions. They thought that they had faith in God all figured out. They thought that they understood the things they were supposed to do and say that would keep them in God’s good graces. Why should they grow any further?
But Jesus would have none of that. Jesus constantly stretched His audience, called them to see God in another way, and called them to open their eyes to different possibilities of how God can and does act. Oftentimes, some of His most poignant points were rammed home by asking a question. “Why are you afraid?” “Who do the crowds say that I am?” “Who do you say that I am?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus stretched his audience, and he continues to stretch us today. The questions that he asked during the time he walked the earth are questions that still carry relevance to us today. I invite you to join me in a journey of looking at those questions and growing in your faith as we invite Jesus to challenge us with the questions He asked in the book of Mark.
2:1-9, 1When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7“Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?”10But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—11“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
A rather interesting scene takes place in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Two characters who have a rather colorful past end up dating together, and on one such date, they begin to question one another regarding all of the rumors that others have told about them. The conversation went something like this:
Patrick: No, none of that stuff is true.
Kat: State trooper?
P: Fallacy. Dead guy in the parking lot?
K: Rumor. The duck?
P: Here say. Bobby Ridgeway’s b-lls?
K: Fact, but he deserved it. He tried to grope me in the lunch line.
P: Fair enough.
K: The accent?
P: It’s real. I lived in Australia until I was 10.
K: With the pygmies?
P: Close, with my mum. (10 Things I Hate About You, 1999)
I watched with fascination at how nearly all the rumors that swelled up about these two characters were false. Because each character was mysterious and acted quite contrary to what others believed as normal, folks talked about them behind their backs. In order to explain the perceived abnormality, folks created stories questioning the characters’ sanity and painting them as psychopathic wierdos. Anyone who has ever had one’s name drug through the rumor mill can relate very well to what happened to these two characters. Fortunately, for them it was a movie. In real life, things can end up much worse.