I used to think being smart meant having all the right answers . . . now I know, real wisdom begins with asking the right questions.
There was a time in my “religious” life when I thought having faith meant being certain about the mysteries of God. Following Jesus for the past forty years has changed my way of thinking. Now I marvel at the mystery of God and try to remain faithful in a life filled with uncertainty. I know far too many Christians who think our eternal destiny is wrapped up in having the correct answer to the “Jesus” question, rather than learning how to ask Jesus questions.
Jesus is more interested in teaching us how to ask good questions, rather than hearing us recite “doctrinally correct” answers? I believe that’s true, because asking Jesus good and honest questions about life, will lead us closer and closer to the heart of God, who created life in the first place.
This week I will be writing five devotional thoughts based on questions Jesus asked his disciples. I hope contemplating these questions will draw you closer to God and inspire you to ask more questions.
Read John 21:15-19
In John, Chapter Twenty-one, Jesus takes a walk on the beach with Simon Peter. While they stroll along, kicking sand from their sandals, Jesus asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” What—or who—do you think Jesus was referring to when he said, more than these? The catch of fish; Peter’s fishing enterprise; the other disciples? Jesus has a way of asking contemplative questions that make you go, hum.
Go and Do:
As you walk through your day consider what Jesus might point to and ask,
“Do you love me more than these?”
Read Mark 5:21–43
Over and over again, the Gospel stories show how Jesus lived close to human suffering; close enough for a sick woman to touch his clothes, crowds of people to “press around” him, and for a little girl on the threshold of death to hold his hand. His proximity to human suffering brought relief to people living with pain.
Go and Do:
Consider how your proximity to human suffering and injustice can make a difference in your neighborhood?
Read Mark 12:13–17
A group of Pharisees and Herodians set out to trap Jesus in a chargeable offense. Their intent was to have him publicly sanction tax evasion. To refute their accusation Jesus looks at a coin and asks the question, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” He then declares, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Jesus makes a distinction between the empires of this world and the kingdom of God. He makes it clear that each realm inscribes its image on the resources and the economic processes that belong to it.
Go and Do:
Where do you see the image of God? Where do you see the inscription of the Empire?
How can you give your resources more fully to the kingdom of heaven?
Read John 8:1–11
In this story we’re placed in the middle of a drama, where two distinct cultures collide. On the one hand, we encounter a culture of shame and blame; on the other, we experience a culture of grace and new beginnings. When Jesus stoops down to doodle in the dirt, he responds to the drama with a non–anxious presence. His action, and his confrontation of the woman’s accusers, creates a safe and protected place for the woman caught in the act of adultery.
Cultures of blame and shame diminish the lives of all who are trapped in the culture, both the judge and the judged. Cultures of grace create the space for freedom and new beginnings.
Go and Do:
How can your non-anxious presence help create a culture of grace in your community?
Read Luke 22:24–30
On more than one occasion, the disciples of Jesus have a dispute about which one of them is the greatest. Jesus redirects their petty argument by asking a question: “Who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Jesus doesn’t rebuke his friends for their aspirations; he simply redefines what it means to be great. In the kingdom of heaven humility and service are the hallmarks of greatness.
Go and Do:
Today, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If you do, heaven will notice.
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.