Friday, June 04, 2010

Asking Among Ourselves

“Are you asking among yourselves what I meant?” Jesus asked this question of his disciples on one of the last occasions he was with all of them (John 16:19 NLT). His disciples listened to Jesus’ teaching that night, but the essence of what he said didn’t saturate their understanding. So, even though Jesus sat in their midst, they chose to ferry their questions back and forth between themselves rather than ask Immanuel (means God with us) to explain.

Bible studies, Christian literature, one-on-one conversations, and lectures, all remain popular ways to increase knowledge about God. The Bible itself is the ultimate God-encyclopedia, but sometimes I don’t fully comprehend what I read there. I still dot the white-space margins in my Bible with question marks.

To get answers to Bible-margin-questions or big question marks in life, where should we turn? Most often, I resort to talking with friends who are on the same journey. But, could I be making the same mistake the disciples made?

Even with Jesus sitting at the same table, they debated the intricacies of his message. They ignored the available teacher in their presence. A little later that same evening, Jesus gave instructions for seeking wisdom after his ascension. “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy” (16:24).

During that same guiding-session, Jesus also talked about The Comforter, the Holy Spirit who would “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” He also named the prominent problem of the world. “The world’s sin is unbelief in me” (John 16:8, 9).

While the counsel of godly people is admirable and advisable, the best route for clear answers is a talk with the master of language, the Master Theologian. For answers to questions about life, earth, blue skies above, and the heavens beyond, God remains the best source.

When the Old Testament sufferer Job endured awful pain and loss, he questioned God, and little by little God revealed to this faithful man intimacies about God’s own nature. Job would later say, “My ears had heard of you, but now I’ve seen you” (Job 42:5). Job’s conclusion summarizes the current identifier “personal relationship,” which to me means experiencing God beyond Bible story facts – experiencing God in my personal daily walk.

God certainly left us a complete message about himself in the Bible, but we cannot experience God fully until we live in immortal bodies. God says about himself in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” How marvelous is that to have brilliant and benevolent God looking out for us.

God gives us an avenue to get our questions asked – through prayer in Jesus’ name. Sometimes we get clear directives and sometimes heaven is silent. My comfort comes in knowing that God listens when I question him He knows the answer, even if he doesn’t reveal it to me. Jesus said to his disciples, “Are you asking among yourselves what I meant?” I like the alternative of asking God first, and then discussing with my fellow believers the intricacies of his answers.

As the old gospel hymn says, “I may have doubts and fears” but “just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”

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