My four year old is an endless fountain of questions. The other day she asked me why it is summer. I was stumped. (Seriously, what would YOU have said?!) So I gave my stock answer, “Because it is.” She was satisfied not because that was a stellar explanation but because her mind had already moved on to her next question.
“What if there was no white?” she inquired.
“Huh?” I said.
“What if there was no white in the world and no other colors either?”
I was silent, so she prompted me again.
“What if, Mom?”
“Uhhh, I dunno.”
“I think then we’d have no town.”
“Don’t you think we’d have no town, Mom?”
Questions. Lots of questions.
Most are unanswerable, either because they are too theoretical to have an answer or because a four year old would not understand a scientific explanation of why things appear colored and how color has no bearing on existence. Or because a 28 year old (read: me) does not legitimately know why it is summer.
Lexi’s insatiable curiosity reminds me of myself when I began considering spiritual matters. Before I became a Christian, I had a lot of questions about why people believed what the Bible said. Why did they put so much stock in a dude that lived 2000+ years ago? How could they be so sure that He was God and what He said was true?
As I dialogued with Christians, I learned a little bit. But the answers weren’t very satisfying. I had made up my mind that Christianity was a farce before these conversations ever took place. My mind was closed to considering any information these well-meaning believers provided me.
Like Thomas, I needed to experience Jesus for myself.
I ended up at a church youth event on accident. I had just gone to hear a band play because the lead singer was hot. I had no idea he was a Christian and was too stupid to realize he just might be if he was playing in a band at a church. I went, I listened, and I witnessed 100 of my peers worshiping uninhibitedly.
I thought to myself, “If this many people can be affected this deeply by Something, then maybe It really does exist.”
God opened my mind that night.
I left that church believing in a Higher Power. But I left without Jesus. My mind may have changed, but my life didn’t change.
I went back to those Christians who had been talking to me about spiritual things, and I asked some more questions. I didn’t get any mind-blowing answers, but I got a few more pieces of the puzzle.
I struggled for seven more months trying to make sense of my new worldview – a worldview that now included a God.
I wasn’t getting anywhere. Life was still hard. Too hard. I needed more than a mysterious, distant God to hang my hat on. I needed an experience with Jesus.
Confused, tired, and alone, I broke.
I still remember the day. It was July, 1999, and I was in my kitchen. I had just gotten off the phone with the only friend I had left. He had called to say good bye. He was moving 1,000 miles away. He was leaving that very day. And I was left alone. I remember falling to my knees in that kitchen, sobbing.
And with equal parts anger and desperation, I gave God an ultimatum.
“I CAN’T DO THIS, GOD! If You want me to make it through this, YOU are going to have to do it!”
Lucky for me, it was the kind of ultimatum God loves.
As I surrendered my life that afternoon, I never prayed the Sinner’s Prayer.
I had never read a single Bible verse.
I had never attended a church service.
All I did was invite God, albeit harshly, to take control of my life. I yielded to Him.
And He saved me.
My life began to change. I became friends with “those Christians”. I started learning about the God of the Bible. Eventually, I started going to a church on a regular basis. My curiosity about the God I had experienced firsthand was insatiable.
I asked questions. Innumerable questions. I sought out two youth pastors and overwhelmed them with questions about this new life I found myself in. They were my “go to’s”.
I took my questions to college with me and pursued a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology. Today, 12 years after that day in the kitchen, I teach Bible to women in my church. But I still have questions. And I still have “go to’s”. I suspect I always will.
In Acts, an Ethiopian man who does not know Jesus is pondering the book of Isaiah. Philip, a disciple, saw the man and asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:30-31) Philip goes on to instruct him in the Scriptures, and the man accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior and is baptized immediately.
It blows my mind that the Ethiopian didn’t get prideful and act like he understood the Scriptures when Philip inquired. He didn’t get defensive and say, “Who are you to come over here uninvited and question my intelligence?” He didn’t get haughty and reply, “I got this, man.” He didn’t go all individualistic on Philip and say, “I’ll interpret the Scriptures any way I want to, thank you very much.” On the contrary, he basically says, “Of course not! No one can understand the Bible without some help.”
History matters. Context matters. Culture matters. How each passage reads in light of the rest of the Bible matters.
We don’t become Christians and just know this stuff. We all need help understanding what the Bible says, what it means, and how it applies to real life. To use a church word, we all need a mentor to come along side us, do life with us, and guide us when we have questions.