Ask Better Questions
My best teachers encouraged me to ask questions. They would say, “The only bad question is the one you don’t ask.” I suppose that’s good advice. But truth be told, I’ve heard people ask some pretty stupid questions . . . myself included. Here are my top five stupid questions:
How do you get off a nonstop flight?
If you eat a cold hot pocket, is it just a pocket?
Why do we call them restrooms when no one goes there to rest?
If you pamper a cow, do you get spoiled milk?
Why do you need an appointment to see a psychic?
Stupid questions don’t bother me too much, but if someone asks a stupid question at the end of long meeting—right before the mind-numbing meeting is about to end—my insides become unglued.
I bring this up to say . . . worse than asking a stupid question is asking the wrong question. When we ask the wrong question at the wrong time we might solve the wrong problem. The right answers to wrong questions may create new and bigger problems.
Asking the wrong theological question can leave us living on the surface of life and prevent us from experiencing the deeper wonders of God and God’s kingdom. I wonder it that’s why some of my prayers go unanswered? Do I keep asking God the wrong questions?
Here’s an example of a wrong question being asked at the wrong time. After Jesus came back to life he appeared to his friends on multiple occasions. The Bible says, “He presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” It was his final teaching series before he left the planet.
Acts 1:6 says on one occasion, right before Jesus ascended to heaven, his friends asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Listen to his response, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
Jesus doesn’t answer the question. When I read between the lines I hear Jesus saying, you guys are still asking the wrong question. Its time to stop thinking my kingdom is about your nationalistic interest. If you keep your head stuck in the old paradigm you’re going to miss the new thing God is doing. Quit asking how to make the nation great again and start asking, how can our great nation bless the world?
Jesus redirected their question and pointed them towards a future promise and the role they were to play in God’s new agenda: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
It’s time for us church folk to evaluate the questions we’re asking. Do our questions focus too much on how to make great churches? Do we ask God too many questions about how to make America great? Perhaps we need to ask more questions about God’s kingdom and how to receive and steward the gift of God’s Spirit.
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Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.