Jan 302019 4 Responses

A Question I Always Ask That Jesus Never Did

A question is revealing. If a guy walks up to a woman at a bar and asks, “Do you come here often?” his intention is clear–he is checking availability. Chances are a woman who comes to a bar often is single. Compared to one who just happened in there for one night–she might be married. If your boss asks, “Are you busy?” He’s probably not really asking about your schedule. He has simply made clear to you that the two of you are about to talk. If your pastor asks, “Do you want to have lunch?” He might not have an agenda, but he likely is about to tell you about a great opportunity for you to invest in your church’s next building campaign.

Questions matter.

They often matter even more than answers. Show me a business who is getting all the answers right, but asking the wrong questions and I’ll show you a business that is failing. Until we learn to ask the right questions, it doesn’t matter how well we answer the questions we are asking.

There is a question I regularly ask which seems like a very appropriate question: “Is it safe?”

I can’t fathom a scenario in which this isn’t a good question to ask.

As a father, I ask it in reference to my children. The doctor wants to prescribe a medication. My son asks about playing football. My daughter wants to spend the night at a friend’s house. In each situation, I ask, “Is it safe?”

As a pastor, I ask it in reference to ministries in our church. The children’s ministry wants to do a hayride, but it seems like I’ve read somewhere that some insurance companies are forbidding hay rides because of danger. The student ministry is putting on an event that will include a game where kids are blindfolded and being pushed in carts. The missions team is headed to a third world country, but that country was just on the news because of violence. In each situation, as a leader who has responsibilities for those involved, I ask, “Is it safe?”

As a man, I ask it in reference to my life. My wife wants to fly an airline with a bad reputation. My realtor is showing me a home in a different neighborhood. My electrician found a unique way to do what I’ve asked. In each situation, I ask, “Is it safe?”

The question is a sound, prudent, and rational question which we should regularly ask. If someone never asks the question, they are likely irresponsible, reckless, and a possible danger to themselves and others.

However, this question should never be the driving question of our lives. It’s a fair question to ask, but it should never be the primary question.

Jesus Never Did

Jesus loved to ask questions. In most situations, it was a teaching technique much like the Socratic method. Questions cause people to think. It forces them to consider their answer. Jesus loved to ask questions, not because he didn’t know the answer, but because he wanted to help other people to think through their situation.

It’s striking to me that the question I ask all the time is one which Jesus never asked. He never concerned himself with personal safety or asked his disciples to consider their safety when doing His will. Some might wrongly conclude that the question never came up because doing God’s will is always safe. From an earthly perspective, they are wrong. Much of what God calls us to do is easily considered unsafe.

Instead, the question never arose because safety is not as much of a priority for Jesus as it is for us. From his perspective, there are other questions far more pressing:

  • Is it right?
  • Is it true?
  • Is it noble?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it God-glorifying?
  • Is it obedient?

All these questions are more important than asking “Is it safe?” Because all of these questions are more important than our safety.

Not Wrong, But Not Primary

It’s not wrong to consider our safety. We should never recklessly risk our lives for no reason. God doesn’t expect us to seek out persecution or suffering. We’ve been given a brain and a desire to live for a reason. However, safety should never be the primary focus in our lives. We should never equate safety with God’s will because then we will quickly equate risk with being outside God’s will. If there is anything the history of God’s people has shown us it is that God often calls us to do risky, unsafe things.

When safety is our primary thought, obedience will not be our primary response to God. We idolize safety at the expense of obedience.

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