Over the past few months I’ve been working on a study guide for Walk with Me: Pilgrim’s Progress for Married Couples. The guide has just been released and you can download it here for free [don’t you love that word?].
Each of the nine sections focuses on a chapter from the book, with three sets of questions to choose from. There’s a set for general small group discussion, another set for small groups who want to take a deeper look at the material, and a third set for individuals or couples. [Take a peek at the introduction here.]
As I worked on the questions, I was reminded of all the questions Jesus is asked in the gospels.
- “How do you know me?” Nathaniel asked.
- “Where do you get that living water?” the woman at the well asked.
- “Who are you?” the Pharisees asked.
- “How can we know the way?” Thomas asked.
- “What is truth?” Pilate wanted to know.
Sometimes, a question is used to accuse: “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” the Jews asked Jesus.
Or a question can be a way to find an easy out, like Peter’s question to Jesus: “How many times must I forgive my brother?”
They can carry a complaint like Martha’s, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”
I think the best questions are those designed not to find an answer, but to start a dialogue. It’s an asking that doesn’t try to push the other person away. With God, good questions help us come closer to Him, whether they are questions of doubt or mystery or confusion or despair.
God’s questions for me
And when I ask an honest question, I open myself up to being asked one in return. When the lawyer asked Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered by asking, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” He didn’t give the dead-end answer. He invited the lawyer into a give and take.
When the chief priests asked Jesus to tell them by what authority He was teaching and healing, He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism–was it from heaven, or from men?”
Back and forth, back and forth, the dialogue goes. A question is asked. A question answered, sometimes with a question that enlightens us far more than the easy answer we were looking for.
However God chooses to answer our questions–even when He keeps silent–He want us to stay with Him. Our honest questions never drive Him away because He is always waiting for us to take another step closer, even if that means drawing near to Him in our confusion.
Probably every journey of faith starts with a question, a mystery. And sometimes they end with a question too. “Why have You forsaken me?” God was silent and withdrawn from His son, and still Jesus had a question for Him.
What about you?
What question do you want to discuss with God? When will you start the dialogue?
And what question do you think He will ask you in return?
[Edited from the archives]