We've entered a new phase in our family life. Penny has started to ask questions. When we pick Peter up from the train, she'll say, "How was your day, Dad?" Or when she meets someone new she'll say, "Hi. What's your name?" And of course there is the ever-present childhood question, "Why?" I hear that one about every other minute.
Even though the "why" questions exhaust me, I know I should be encouraged by Penny's inquisitiveness. Learning to ask questions is a part of growing up. For adults, almost every time we greet one another we do so using a standard question: "How are you?" Most people ask dozens of questions every day, questions that range from those intended to gather simple facts to the ones that inquire of our souls. We ask questions when we need help or information. We ask questions when we're confused. We ask about mundane things: What's the weather forecast? What are we having for dinner? We ask more personal questions when we care about getting to know someone better: How's work? How's your family? And we ask, perhaps with less frequency, more profound questions: Why do I exist? Is there any purpose to life? Questions serve two basic purposes: they gain information and they build relationships.
When Jesus walked the earth, he asked questions all the time, and people asked him questions all the time. Here's a list of some of the questions people asked Jesus: How do you know me? Don't you care if we drown? What is truth? Are you the one that was to come? How can we know the way? The fact that other people routinely asked Jesus questions suggests that they realized that he was someone to help clear up their confusion about life; someone who could give them vital information; someone who cared about their well-being.
And consider some of the questions that Jesus asks people: Do you want to get well? Why are you troubled? Who do you say that I am? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? The fact that Jesus asked questions of others suggests that he wanted to engage in conversation, not simply dictate his perspective on life.
For the next few months on Tuesday mornings, I'm going to take a look at one of these places in the Gospels, either where people ask questions of Jesus or where he asks questions of those around him. The God of the Bible is not a God who commands us to accept His existence without question or silences us when we have doubts, fears, and concerns. Rather, the God of the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ, invites relationship, invites questions, invites exploration. I hope these reflections will provide a way to look at a God who permits us, even invites us, to ask questions still.