Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why "Asking Good Questions?"

I was watching "Contact" this morning. Fabulous movie, written by a man I loathed 9 years ago. But that's not the point. As Ellie and Palmer are talking after their first "romantic" encounter, and Palmer is telling her about His passion for God, Ellie recalls attending Sunday School as a child. She would ask tons of questions, hard questions, lesson-stopping questions that break up the carefully crafted moment the teacher had prepared. Questions like "Where did Mrs Cain come from?" The pastor eventually contacted her father, and asked him to stop bringing her, because she was "disrupting" the Sunday School. As she said this, I uttered a word which is not fit for print. That teacher had betrayed their calling.

Ironically, the reason I loathed Carl Sagan, the author of Contact and Demon Haunted World, was because the latter book made me question my faith. Put me in a three-month tail-spin, actually. Yet it is the very ability to question that allows us to learn and grow.

Most of us church people don't like questions. We fear that if we can't answer, then it means God doesn't have the answer, or can't answer, and so we cast aside those who ask good questions.

But my God is bigger than my questions. We fear that questioning God is heresy, the kind of thing that gets you struck by lightning or something, We point to stories in the Bible (somewhere) in which people who test God are killed.

But then there's the honest seeker. Gideon. He questions God not out of arrogance, but submission and humility. And God honors him with a sign. And that's the difference. Not approaching God in arrogance and pride, thinking our questions void His existence, or that we are owed an answer, but in humility and honest seeking, knowing that the Answer to all good questions will lead us into truth, if we will let Him.

So don't fear the questions. Ask them. Not to me, per se, though I'll be glad to ask them with you. Let's join together, and take them to God. Be willing to live in the tension of not-knowing-and-yet-still-believing. And trust that even if we don't get to know the answers, our questions will still lead us to the Answer.

May God bless our humble questioning, remove our pretense, and bring us into honest truth. Amen.