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Does Jesus have the Answers??

    I have spent many years listening to sermons of the Scriptural exegesis type. I would hear lengthy historical backgrounds, much emphasis on the true meaning of every word, often with Greek or Hebrew meanings woven deeply around the topic. Totally Biblical and solid sound teaching, for which I am most grateful.

    To be honest, though, often the Church dogma was so completely interwoven with the message that to doubt what was said would be interpreted as almost unthinkable and viewed with great suspicion. It was as if all I needed to know would and could be explained with a neat doctrinal stance, which would supply descriptive answers to every situation in life. Certain verses could be quoted and claimed and if there was sufficient faith, this would answer all of life�s uncertainties. Jesus had the answer to every situation and circumstance. Problem was, this didn�t happen!!!! To dare to question was seen as almost heresy! I doubt that I am the only one who has faced that dilemma. It is typical in many Christian arenas, but particularly so in many fundamental mainstream churches.

    Because I have not been satisfied with this approach, I am currently taking my own personal spiritual discovery tour. Surely there can be no faith without questions, in fact. It is in questioning that we find faith in the first place, and the double-act of question and trust go hand in hand in faith development.

    Questions, eternal and deep, rise again and again from deep within me. The freedom to not-know, to dwell in the Cloud of Unknowing where the darkness is indeed gently comforting, has great safety.

    I must say it is far more exciting, entrancing and enchanting than I dreamed. I feel like I�m dancing! Questions are bubbling with a joyful exuberance � rather like my toddler grandson Andrew, who continually asks �How?� and �Why?� without waiting, or necessarily needing an answer. Andrew�s questioning is as much about wanting to communicate with me, as it is the desire for answers. For Andrew, it is his way to communicate his wonder and awe about the whole huge world around him. I feel exactly like him!!! I ask many questions to my wonderful Maker, with awe and such a deep sense of the love surrounding me, that frequently no answer seems necessary. We are just enjoying company together! There is great liberation in feeling free to toss questions to the air without the need for answers.

    When I look at the life of Jesus, he asked many questions. It is also said that of about 180 questions which were asked of Jesus, he answered extremely few!!! Often he responded with a counter-question. One must deduce that the act of asking questions is a vital part in following Jesus and developing faith. Let�s reflect on the classic statement Jesus made concerning the kingdom of God. �Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you� (Matt.7:7).

    It appears clear that it is those who question, those who ask of God, who will receive. Not the followers who feel they already know everything! Asking implies quite a deal. Firstly, the person who is willing to ask questions is someone who has been prepared to admit to their own personal not-knowing-ness. They would have already embraced their own emptiness for solutions. It is in the act of emptying ourselves, that we become open to our own short-comings and a self-awareness of our own limitations. It is an act of personal surrender.

    Asking also implies trust. We only ask for assistance to the person we feel most confident will provide for us the answer. We deliberately choose the person who we believe will have the BEST solution to our need. In a classroom, children ask their teacher for information as their first point of enquiry. So to ask our Lord, we are letting it be known that we fully trust that this is where we need to be, trusting Jesus as the best person from whom to receive the help we need.

    In the act of asking, we are accepting that our Lord knows more, and that we need his direction. It is humbling to admit we need to ask for directions. (I notice many men find it very hard to stop and ask for directions when lost, while women feel quite free to do this � our old traditional culture has demanded men to be the knowledgeable ones, whilst women have more traditionally felt more free to accept their own neediness. It was even believed �cute� for women to be dumb or helpless!!! � Which of course, they are not!!!).

    When we ask Jesus, he says �it will be given to you�. This interests me. As a child educator for many years, I know that when a child asks a question, the very BEST way of teaching is NOT to give a direct answer. That way, the information comes too easily and is not retained well by the child. The best learning occurs when the child is led to find his own answer. This can be done through further questioning (as Jesus often did), which then leads the child to the place where he or she will discover the answer for himself.

    Self-discovered learning is by far the most durable way of imparting information. The child may experiment with objects, discuss with other children to gather a wide spread of opinions, research into books or search the internet. Often all of these learning opportunities are provided, and when combined together, they give the child a solid basis to make an informed decision that leads him or her to the answer needed. This takes far longer, and far more commitment, plus an enquiring mind and a genuine desire for knowledge.

    True learning doesn�t come instantly. When we seek an �Ask: Receive� type mentality to spirituality, we are not likely to find it!!! Spirituality does not �happen� in a drive-thru, fast food package. It is a slow development. As Rowland Croucher has often said, God is an agriculturalist. The Bible imagery portrays this constantly. Agricultural development is by nature slow. The longer way to learn, as with children, is the best way. The long way is slow, and needs far more commitment, but the adventure is awesome!!

    There is a common misconception that when we ask God for anything, the answer will come as one of �Yes�, �No� or �Not yet�. This highly simplistic view is not only demeaning to the character of God, but also dishonoring to our own abilities. Many of the answers to our questions lie already deep within us. The �true seed� is planted there already, waiting patiently for us to search for it. Through growing to a more full awareness and understanding of our motivations, our sinfulness, our heart condition, and our inborn nature many answers become obvious. We may have much weeding and tending to do around that �true seed� to allow it to flourish. All of us have a shadow side, as Jung would say. This takes time, but ultimately will lead us to become more fully accepting and aware of our selves. By far the best way to discover our heart condition is to spend time with the Maker of our heart, Jesus our God.

    Let us become like Mary of Magdala, and sit at the feet of Jesus. Let us gaze upon the radiance of his beauty, bask in the presence of the redemptive and passionate Lover of our hearts. We will learn of Jesus be being with him. Allow ourselves �to be�, and not �to do�. As we sit, and wait patiently and tenderly he will come, whispering peace and forgiveness, love and joy, gentleness and compassion.

    Our questions at this point so often fade into insignificance. Or the answer will come, imperceptibly leading us to the next tiny step. So let us wait patiently � for we will hear in the silence. The answer will come in the �not-answering�, unexpected way. Dwell near to the heart of God today. Rest. Jesus comes. We will learn best too, through discovering for ourselves just who we are, deep in our hearts, and who Jesus is, and what his heart is truly like. Yes, Jesus IS the answer, but perhaps not in the way we have searched before.

    � 2004 Christine M. Jones
    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries