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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Asking a Good Question


              

"How can these things be?"
          Nicodemus to Jesus of Nazareth


A long time ago I realized I was way more interested in the questions than the answers. In fact, nowadays, I find most answers boring and trivial. But I am still energized by questions.

Many people struggle with asking a good question. A lot of people succeed in finding answers, and some answers are even good...though not many. I can pinpoint the exact conversation I was having where I realized that questions interested me way more than answers. Her name is Terri, and we worked together over summers helping Lutheran congregations develop youth ministries and programs. Our first time together we were talking, and she said, "I don't know why I'm telling you all this? Aren't you bored?" Those aren't real good questions. The first one is not really a question for me, but really for her? Why was she telling me her life story? Perhaps she needed to pursue that...(by the way, she was an intelligent, thoughtful woman, and I am sure she did pursue that question.) The second question has an out for the answerer: you can say yes or no. Any question that has a yes or no possibility is not the best kind of question. (They are helpful questions, such as "Am I on the right road to...?)

Nicodemus is my 2nd favorite character in the Bible because he asks a good question. "How" and "Why" questions are where all the fun is in asking questions. The question Nicodemus asks takes a whole lifetime to answer. How do you measure the worth of a person? You can't until they are dead. Do you really want to peak at your life while you're in middle school?

In the charming little movie "I Love You, Beth Cooper" Beth tells her suitor that her high school graduation is the peak of her life. She knows life will never be better for her than it was in high school where she was popular, beautiful, and on top of the world. She is sad, wistful, and trying to to tell her nerdy friend that he, unlike her, has a great life a head of him.  Of course, we hope that life isn't over for Beth, but there is a sense that sometimes we forget that life can't be judged until it is over.

Jesus of Nazareth not only knew that, but he lived it. And his answer to Nicodemus' wonderful question is a life filled with compassion, love, hope, and promise for everyone he meets. That makes Nicodemus' question valuable not only to him, but also to Jesus. Jesus seems to glimpse from that question that whatever is going on between God and humanity cannot be answered in being born again or other such nonsense. It can only be answered in living a lifetime of love. If you're going to live in the light, you love in the light. The only legitimate answer to the question is to live in the love God has for the cosmos.

We used to ask the girls on their way home from school if they heard any good questions that day? Those were great conversations. Great times. What are the questions that move you? What are the questions that show you how to live in the love of God?

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.


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