To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper. (Proverbs 19:8)
Relate: “There are no stupid questions”. I have heard this inane statement more times than I can wish. It immediately pulls the ornery out of me and for the remainder of the training session I will be racking my brain for the dumbest possible question I can possibly ask. I say “training session” because it isn’t normally teachers but those presuming to teach teachers who would offer up such inane statements as this. Real teachers wouldn’t be dumb enough to make it.
When it comes to stupid questions, I have heard some really big doozies in my time like the guy wondering if he could turn his monitor screen saver into a mirror by scanning a mirror. Seriously. That really did happen. Saying there are no stupid questions is an incredibly dumb statement in and of itself even if it does come from a noble sentiment. Questions asked without thought are dumb but it is still good to encourage thoughtful questions. Just please, be wise in how you encourage the thoughtfulness in the questioning.
There is a flip side. I also have often heard an amazingly great statement made asinine by the dumb sentiment it is born out of. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I prefer the less catchy but more accurate shorter version: “God said it. That settles it.” From the viewpoint of the authority of God, this is true. The problem is, I’ve often seen it used as a thinly veiled cloak for anti-intellectualism. Often, when the statement is being used what it really means is, “I don’t want to think or talk about that.” To ask questions without thought is dumb, but to refuse to think about the questions asked is even dumber.
React: Burying the questions doesn’t send them away. If all I do is bury any questions then one of two things is going to happen: Either I am going to go through my life as a very stupid Christian or in the background, out of sight, the doubt fostered by that question is going to grow, eating away my faith and replacing it with cynicism and skepticism. At some point that question rears its head again much bigger and I no longer have the spiritual and intellectual tools to wrestle with it. There are questions worth asking:
Is hell real and, if so, is God just?
If there is a good God, why is there suffering?
Was Jesus not just a good teacher?
Is homosexuality wrong?
How do the facts of science line up with the facts of creation in Genesis 1 & 2?
Can the Bible be trusted?
Why should I go to church?
Aren’t all religions basically the same?
What happens to the billions who have never heard of Jesus?
Is it morally inconsistent to be pro life when it comes to abortion but still be for capital punishment and war?
These are just ten of the many questions we should be asking. The world is asking them to us and if we haven’t found an answer for ourselves, then every time it comes up, a little more of our faith and confidence in God can die. We might be afraid of these questions but God isn’t. It is wisdom to seek out answers to our questions. It is God honoring to take these questions to Him, to study and to search, and to come through the other side like Jacob who became Israel – “He has wrestled with God and has overcome”.
I believe I have answers to all of these questions. However, for many of them, I thought I had answers as young as ten but the answers I had then don’t work for me now. Hopefully, as I continue to learn and grow and mature, I will need deeper and deeper answers as I grow older and wiser. As these questions come up in conversation, I can respect those who have asked these questions and have found different answers. We can grow and learn from each other. The ones who I can’t learn from are the ones who refuse to ask, and keep asking the questions. It makes me wonder if they truly love God, or are they just sheltering behind a supposedly “easy, safe” religion.
There is nothing that, when searched out, does not reveal Your glory. By hiding from the answers, by avoiding the big questions, all I do is miss out on an opportunity to better learn how great and how awesome and how beautiful You are. Sometimes those questions can be scary. Help me not to fear. You are greater. Be with me through the storms of doubt, wrestle with me as I struggle to learn and know, and stay there until the Son rises and I am victorious on the other side.