My spiritual journey has taken many twists and turns. I chased a lot of rabbits and reached a lot of dead ends along the way. I grew up in a religion that taught me some good things, but was also lacking in many areas. At the age of twenty I started to do some real soul-searching. I asked questions. Unfortunately, those questions were not met with solid answers. In fact, I was almost scolded for asking such questions. So, I turned elsewhere. Religion is like Baskin-Robbins. There are thirty-one flavors, and then some. I taste-tested most of them. And, I asked questions. Sadly, the answers always came up lacking. Then I met my wife. She had grown up as a member of the Seventh & Mueller Church of Christ. I didn’t know much about where she went to church or what she believed, but I did have a built-in bias against the Church of Christ. I felt that they were spiritual elitists and too exclusive for my tastes. But I liked the girl, so I went to church with her. I heard more Bible that church service than I had in my entire upbringing. So, do you know what I did? You guessed it. I asked questions. And, surprisingly, I received quality answers. I can remember asking the preacher, “So what does Church of Christ doctrine say about… (fill in the blank).” He responded, “Chris, I don’t have Church of Christ doctrine. I have a Bible. That’s all I need, and that’s all you need as well.” Wow! That made sense to me. Not additives. No extra flavoring. No supplements. Just scripture. That appealed to me. It still does.
What about marriage, divorce, and remarriage? Can women serve communion? Why don’t you all use instruments in your worship? Is it really a sin to dance? You mean my mother is not in heaven because she wasn’t baptized? These are legitimate questions that people have. And, sadly, what I have found is that we’re not always good at answering them. Just like in the religion I grew up in, we don’t always give sufficient answers. And what’s worse, is we don’t seem to value questioning. We answer with a tone of condescension or pointedly, as if we have to immediately shut down all discussion on the topic. We’re not always loving in our response. We sometimes give the impression that one is a heretic or liberally-minded for even asking in the first place. Or, we pull verses out of context and don’t accurately handle God’s word when providing an answer. We defer to years of traditionalism rather than quality Biblical exegesis. We reach right conclusions, but how we reach them leaves something to be desired. Like in the field of mathematics, we don’t always show our work well.
I do believe there comes a point when we must stop the questioning and make a decision of faith. Questioning for the sake of questioning is not a beneficial exercise. However, I am where I am today because I asked questions, and someone was willing to lovingly and patiently answer them. We should value questioning. What do we have to hide? We have the truth of God’s word–the truth that will set one free (Jn. 8:32). Peter plainly states that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).” The answers are contained within the pages of scripture. This is an open-book test. Let’s help people pass by showing them the answers.
And let’s be humble. Truth is we don’t have all the answers, so let’s not be arrogant with our knowledge. I have witnessed far too many Christians who were rude, inconsiderate, and downright nasty when it came to communicating what they believed. None of us are experts on every Biblical topic. And it doesn’t matter how right you are if you are wrong in your approach.
What’s the goal? To make and grow disciples. An individual doesn’t reach that goal without asking questions. We should value questioning because we value their soul.