Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Questions Without Answers

Part of my job at the church is to teach the 1st year Confirmation class. So on Thursday nights from 6-7:30 I spend time with twelve 6th graders and four parent guides. I have to say, this year's class keeps me on my toes. I never wanted to be a classroom teacher, but once a week for an hour and a half, I can deal with it. It's also nice that I don't necessarily have to stick to "traditional" teaching methods. The picture to the right is an image I see every week. Students excitedly raising their hands. (And yes, sometimes they do try to get out of their seats.) This happens with every class, but I've noticed that this year it has been happening a lot more than usual . . . and it's to ask questions not answer them.

This is by far the most inquisitive group of 11 year olds that I have ever met in my life. It's a lot of fun. They want to know more about the Bible and God and faith. They ask the hard questions too. One of my favorites was "If Jesus is God, then why does he always call on the Father's power for miracles? Doesn't he have powers of his own?"

And my response was . . .

"Uh.... yes?"

In my head I was thinking . . .

"You're 11. You're not supposed to be thinking of hard questions like that which I can't answer."

But it's awesome. It drives me back to the Bible and to asking questions myself. They aren't afraid to dig and to find answers and to challenge me to dig and find answers as well. But there's one problem.

You aren't always going to find an answer.

This is especially true for the Bible and faith. There are times when we just aren't going to have all of the answers that we want. 11 year olds have problems with that sometimes. OK . . . pretty much all the time. Before Thanksgiving we were learning about the Trinity, and it's a concept that no one can understand. Therefore, my class has several questions. "But how can Jesus be God but then pray to himself?" "God had to be created, he can't just always exist." "How can God be everywhere?"

I try my best to explain to them that there are times we just don't know, and we just have to know it is true. They don't like it when I say things like that. It's one of the difficult parts of growing up and having a developing mind. When you're 11 you are capable of asking questions that are more theoretical and symbolic... but your brain can only comprehend concrete. So when you get a theoretical answer to a theoretical question... you don't know what to do with it.

But don't we still have that problem even after our minds are fully developed? We want direct answers. It's black or white, right or wrong. Anything in between sometimes we just can't handle it.

That's part of the challenge of Christmas. Wrapping our heads around the idea of God becoming a man. Not just a man . . . but a baby. It's the challenge Todd Agnew had when we was writing this album. If you search on YouTube you can find  videos of him talking about the process he went through for writing each song. When it came to writing from Jesus' perspective . . . he came to a bump in the road.

How do you write from the perspective of Baby Jesus?

So he started asking questions. How can God be in a baby?

Were Mary's eyes the first eyes you saw, or did you remember choosing that shade of brown?

Did the cross cast a shadow o'er your cradle?

Were you just a baby or were you as old as time?

Did you shudder each time your hammer struck a nail?

What was your life like?

The idea of God being one of us is mind blowing. Jesus has always existed, but then he was born. He's part of the Trinity and is God, but still prays to the Father. Jesus is God, but on the cross he cries out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But it happened. There is no way that we can explain it. 

I love playing this song for the youth at St. Andrew. I see their eyes widening and the wheels in their heads spinning around in circles. They start to wonder . . . what was Jesus' life like as God and man? 

Sometimes I hate having unanswered questions, and I hate telling the youth that I don't have answers. But others . . . I'm glad I don't have all the answers. We can still be in awe and wonderment at what God is doing and what he has done. We can't explain God away through a scientific formula or mathematical equation . Although I KNOW God uses those, so don't get me wrong. God and science and all of that do go together. If people tell you otherwise don't believe them. But at the same time . . . God can work beyond those means too. I think that's one of the best parts of faith. When we can wonder....

So I challenge you, ask the hard questions. Ask the questions that can't be answered this Christmas. Wonder about Jesus' life on this earth and ponder the Word became flesh. God came down to us as a baby. He lived among us. 

Sometimes not knowing the answer brings you closer to the heart of God. 

The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos. He does not call out from a distant place but draws near. He enters our world, a world He made, and speaks clearly; yet His creation did not recognize Him. . . The Voice that had been an enigma in the heavens chose to become human and live surrounded by His creations. We have seen Him. Undeniable splendor enveloped Him - the one true Son of God - evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth.   

John 1:9-10; 14 The Voice

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