Is it okay to have questions about God? Well of course! Look at the word “question,” and you will see the word “quest.” A person who asks questions is on a quest, a journey. Children ask questions because they want to understand. There is no quicker way to stunt your spiritual and intellectual growth than to stop asking questions. I love the three letter word “why,” and my heroes are those who have swam upstream rather than merely accept handed-down answers. In this article, we will briefly look at two questioners: Jesus and Thomas.
In Luke 2, Jesus’ family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. While on their way home, they realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Yikes! How would you like to be the parents who lost Jesus? Frantically they searched for him and found him three days later in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (vs 46). (Perhaps Joseph and Mary were the first two people to “find Jesus.”) The Scripture goes on to say, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (vs 47). How did Jesus amaze them? Was it some kind of Torah trivia game? Or, does understanding imply something deeper than mere rote memorization? I think it’s fair to say Jesus had a profound awareness of God from a very early age. Yet, even he had to grow, mature, and develop (vs 52).
Thomas is my favorite of the apostles. He’s been referred to as “Doubting Thomas” throughout the ages. However, I find him the most honest of the 12. One time Jesus was giving a speech about how he was going away but one day the others could join him where he was. Thomas interrupted Jesus and burst out, “We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas didn’t get it. He didn’t understand. So, he questioned. Not only do I not find fault with Thomas, I identify with him. Think of it this way. You only ask questions if you care. I do not understand Algebra, and I do not care enough to ask questions. I do not understand how a car runs. If the vehicle gets me from Point A to Point B, that’s all I care to know. I will not research manuals or ask mechanics or engineers any questions. Why? I don’t care. However, when it comes to spirituality, I am full of questions. Why? Because I care. Because I am on a journey. And, chances are, if you’re still reading, you care, too. There is some part of you that is on an honest spiritual quest.
In John 20, Thomas is told that Jesus, who had been put to death by crucifixion, was alive again. Thomas didn’t believe them. Do you blame him? What do you call people who believe everything they are told? Idiots. (That’s what I call them, but you’re probably kinder than me.) Thomas was unwilling to believe something just because someone else said it was true. I admire his desire for a first-hand experience. His questioning was not a sign of weakness, but of character. “There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds” (Alfred Lord Tennyson).
Do not allow yourself to be satisfied with hand-me-down faith or worn-out explanations. You would not rinse your mouth with the mouthwash someone else has spit out. You need your own mouthwash, and you must find your own answers. There is enormous danger in merely copying the beliefs of another. All true seekers have had to find their own path. Spiritual leaders may serve as guides and luminaries, but they must be limited to being just that. A friend of mine shared these meaningful words with me: “Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.”