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Ask Questions

  • Klaus Issler Guest Author
  • 2001 26 Sep
Ask Questions
Since growing to know God is a continuing project, one way to maintain a lifelong learning perspective is to nurture the practice of questioning. Asking our own questions is what genuinely prompts our own learning. Do we forget how Jesus pursued His questions as child of 12? "After three days [Joseph and Mary] found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers" (Luke 2:46-47). In His public ministry, Jesus prompted others to consider new ideas with His questions.
"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He ... How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? ... If then David calls Him 'Lord,' how can He be his son?" (Matthew 22:42-46).
"Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" (Mark 3:4, cf. Luke 14:3).
The disciples had their own questions for Jesus, prompted by the situation at hand:
"Why do you speak to the people in parables?" (Matthew 13:10).
"Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first? (Matthew 17:10).
Probably the best example of a group of people who manifested a spirit of teachability and a practice of questioning is the Bereans. During Paul's second missionary journey, after being jailed in Philippi and experiencing a near riot in Thessalonica, Paul and his companions came to the hospitable Bereans. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).
Unfortunately, sometimes in school and in church we are discouraged from asking our own questions. Much of schooling involves memorizing answers in books that resulted from the questions asked by others -- an important educational foundation. Yet one potential danger is that our natural, God-given curiosity about life -- in prominent use as preschoolers (e.g., Exodus 12:26 and 13:14; Joshua 4:6, 21) -- may have been put aside as we got used to the habits of schooling. Perhaps a teacher awakened this learning desire, or some life crisis resparked this natural inclination. But the light for learning will be blown out unless we sustain it by developing an inquiring mind. By putting into words what puzzles or perplexes us, we are then in a position to seek answers.
When in a teaching-learning situation, a good habit is to write down at least one question about something we would like to learn more about. Once a question gets a hold of us, we will become captivated to a life of learning and will engage in a process to demolish false God-in-the-box ideas.

Excerpted with permission from Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God, copyright 2001 by Klaus Issler. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com, 1-800-843-4587.

Klaus Issler, Ph.D., is professor of Christian education and theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, Calif., and adjunct faculty for the Institute for Spiritual Formation.

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