In the last post, I began to raise the issue & place of asking questions in discipleship. We saw how the disciples grew under Jesus as they asked. When they saw him pray, they asked. When he spoke to a fig tree and it withered, they asked. When they saw him heal a man they couldn’t heal, they asked why. Even at the point of the last supper with the master they still asked several questions… And Jesus never denied them of the answers!
Questions, genuinely asked, receive answers. After all, “he that asketh, receiveth”. Jesus (and godly elders too) never turn away a genuine question, no matter how many times you come to ask it. Correct teachers know that no question from a student is foolish, it only shows the gap in understanding and longing to learn. Correct parents know that no question from a child is foolish, it is simply an opportunity to set the right path & principle in the heart of the child.
In this post, I want to deal with a few mistakes I made & I’ve seen several disciples also make as we began to put this in practice.
1. Keeping quiet for fear of sounding foolish!
Ask students, this is the number one reason students never ask questions in class. “Rather than sound foolish, I’ll rather keep quiet and figure it out myself” they say to themselves. Several disciples who do not know, fail to ask because they are afraid of being seen as “he doesn’t even know that simple thing”!
Ask now, be foolish once. Keep quiet, remain foolish!
This is one statement God confronted me with that broke this and helped me with this. You are only foolish once. When you ask and you receive help, you become wiser. Don’t keep quiet for not wanting to sound foolish. Don’t keep quiet because you think “they expect me to know this by now” or “I asked this same thing last week”. Truth is, what you don’t yet know, you don’t know. There is no need to pretend that you know. No matter how many times you’ve asked, if the question still lingers, it’s not been answered – ask again!
2. Asking Questions VS Questioning
A: Sir, how can a young person be in a relationship and still keep it godly? I mean no form of immorality, not even the slightest of it? Please help me.
B: Sir, is it ever possible for a young person to be in a relationship and still be godly? Things are difficult these days o… Okay talk sir, is there anyone ever who did it right?
Do you notice any difference in these?
Both have question marks behind them but are asked with two different mindsets. To ask questions (the kind I’ve been speaking about) is to objectively & sincerely seek for help over an issue. In this case, you really want to know because you’re willing to learn, willing to take counsel and ready to obey.
On the other hand, to question something is to already take a position on the matter and try to find a fault in what the elder is saying. Notice that person B has already (in his mind) concluded how difficult & almost impossible it is for a young person to stay pure in a relationship. So though it looks like he is asking a question, he is most likely not ready to take whatever counsel he is given. Note that this is first a matter of your heart than it is of how you frame the question. What you really mean in your heart will surely be exposed in your words!
Are you sincerely asking a question or you just want to question it?
3. Ask real, personal questions, not hypothetical!
I was in a bible study with some young people when we were studying the scripture where Paul spoke about being caught up to the third heaven (I think). And someone asked “Where is the third heaven? Is it below the sky or above the firmament? Is it the real heaven…” And we were on this location matter for about 20 minutes!
How many times have you been in a Q&A session of a seminar and you hear questions like “What if…” and questions like “what of if there is a man…” Sure you’ve heard these kinds of questions or maybe you’ve even asked them yourself before.
What is the problem? They are not real questions. Whereas knowing the greek words and it’s meanings, Hebrew explanations and context of bible events surely help in understanding the bible more, many times we miss the main & simple message of the scripture, while we are in search of some complex explanations, just to boost our ego that we now know and escape the responsibility of simple obedience to the simple word of God.
When you ask, be simple, be direct, be real. Be personal and not hypothetical!
Don’t just ask a question to prove someone else wrong, ask because you really want to be helped. Focus on your own real need of counsel, ask for your own understanding. Even if you need to ask a question for someone else, let it be genuine and real and not just fictitious or hypothetical.
The essence of asking questions (which I will deal with fully in the next post) is Obedience. If you are not planning to obey, there really is no point asking. If you already know what you want to do & how you plan to do it and you’re just looking for an elder to stamp it or a pastor to tell you what you want to hear, just leave it and do what is in your heart.
But I believe you’re sincere. So ask sincere questions. Don’t be afraid to ask, even if it ends up being foolish, you’ll only be foolish once and after that, you’ll be better than those who didn’t know and didn’t ask. Be sincere and don’t question things. Ask real questions, personal questions. Ask because you really want to learn and you are willing to obey. Remember, discipleship as a whole, points to becoming more like Jesus, ask questions that will help you be more like Him in a practical way.
May God help us.