Questions at Church

I don’t watch the show Desperate Housewives so I only have a passing familiarity with it or its characters. But thanks to the Vision Navigator, I saw this clip and it struck a chord with me.

watch this right quick (excuse the mild expletive)

parenthetically, do you get the impression that this was the most memorable church service ever in this particular big room?

is your church like the one in the clip? are you supposed to just sit and listen to sermons with answers and hope that sometime (hopefully soon) a sermon will have the answer you need for your question?

Or do you go to a place where questions are encouraged? Do you think questions should be asked? questions of the preacher? of God?

Let me be very clear about my bias on this issue. I love questions. I eat live and breathe questions. the idea of not asking a question because “we don’t do that here” breaks me out in hives.

I think that packed into the idea of the Bereans examining the scripture for themselves to see if what Paul said was true in Acts 17:11 was the idea that these folks heard something Paul said and they thought to themselves some version of “wait just a cotton-picking minute, what did he just say? I sure never saw that in scripture before, let me check that out.” For this type of questioning, Luke commended them as “more noble” than the Thessalonians who apparently didn’t do such examination.

I think the clip above demonstrates two different types of questions.

This first type of question involves the lesson being taught.

Feedback from the group about the lesson in the moment when there is an opportunity to correct mistakes and clear up misunderstandings is absolutely invaluable. We should have sermon time with a feedback loop involving questions in every service. This is the way I have taught for years and I assure you that it can be done in even large groups. Many times, I have been flagged down in mid sentence to explain exactly what the heck I was just trying to say. This type of questioning must occur. Language is a difficult way to communicate and it is fraught with the potential for being misheard and misunderstood. Only with questions in the moment can the teacher have some assurance that what he or she was trying to say was heard and understood.

The second type of question is of the substantive type that Lynette was asking in the video above.

This is a question about the nature of God and reasons that He does the things he does in the world. Regarding the questioning of God, attitude is everything. Daniel was commended as a person highly treasured by God after he humbled himself and sought understanding from God. Daniel 10:10-12 cf Daniel 9:22-23. See also Psalm 25:14 where we are assured that God’s friendship is with those who fear him and that he will make his covenant known to them.

Al Mohler says it like this:

Considering a human father for a moment, we can recognize two different ways of questioning his ways. The first way would be to rest secure in his love and fatherly care, but to express confusion over his ways. Even the most faithful and trusting children wonder about their parents at times. What are they up to? Why did they make that decision rather than the other? What was the purpose of that action? As close as children are to parents, parents often perplex children by acting like adults. In this mode of questioning, the child never questions the father’s love and faithful disposition, but does admit confusion — and perhaps even disappointment.

The other way of questioning a human father is to question his character, his faithfulness, or the authenticity of his love. This is an altogether different mode of questioning. In this second pattern of questioning, the child questions the father’s heart, not merely his actions and ways.

Now, move from considering these two different modes of questioning a human father to a parallel set of approaches to questioning our heavenly Father. It is not unfaithful to admit and to articulate a sense of perplexity and pain in observing the ways of God. There are times when we cannot offer an explanation of God’s ways. At times, we cannot even detect any possibility of a purpose. We can admit this to ourselves, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to our heavenly Father.

The other mode of questioning God, on the other hand, constitutes sin and implies unbelief. We cannot remain faithful and question God’s own faithfulness. His love for those who are in Christ is beyond question. His character is a constant and his love never fails. He is not loving and gracious toward believers at one moment, only to turn into a malevolent deity the next. He never changes.

In this light, it would be sin to question God in this second sense — the sense in which we might question whether God really loves us, or if He is really faithful to his promises. This is not the questioning worthy of a believer, but of an unbeliever.

Do you see the difference? We should never question God’s motives. We can, in faith, have questions about His methods if we maintain our respect for God’s ultimate sovereignty and goodness.

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