Too often as the church we are answering questions instead of asking questions. Worse than that – we are answering questions no one is asking. We are that far out of touch with the society in which we live and work. And the church has fewer answers than it realizes, or it would demonstrate more impact. But I get ahead of myself.
The book of Acts is the story of Jesus working powerfully through frail and broken humanity to aggressively expand His Church. But Acts wasn’t written to show us how to do church. It was written to show us how to advance the Church in an unreached world. Talk about reaching the unreached! Nobody has had the challenge that the early church did. As the world’s first Christians, they were the only Christian in the world. All the vast unconverted pagan empires lay before that small pack of Jewish men and women that Jesus commissioned. If anybody should be counted experts at reaching the unreached, it was they. Because to them, everybody they came into contact with was unreached.
But they took Acts 1:8 (see note) seriously, and lived that verse out to fulfillment. If we want to witness Kingdom expansion like the apostles did, it’s not enough to know what they did. We need to do what they did. Two thousand years later, we flatter ourselves over and above our first-century counterparts, imagining we have the advantage of superior knowledge. But knowledge does not get people saved. Nor does it expand the Kingdom. We know a lot about a lot of things and we certainly know how to make profound statements about current issues. However, now is not the time in Church history to wax lyrical. Ours is a day for living out, not sounding smart. Besides, the Church has fewer answers than it realizes, or it would demonstrate more impact than it has. We should be asking the right questions instead of providing wrong answers to questions no one is actually asking.
As a rabbi, Jesus’s method of teaching involved asking searching questions. In the gospels, Jesus asks 307 questions but only answered two. Why? Because Jesus knew that when we start asking questions, we begin to experience breakthroughs and gain deeper insight into our situation.
During the day of the Judges (Old Testament), bandits and enemies had the Israelites’ backs to the ropes, beating their self-dependency out of them. There are eerie parallels between the days when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25) and our gimmicks, antics, and over-confidence today. Gideon may have been a coward, hiding in the bottom of a winepress against the onslaught of what was befalling his culture, but he turned the tide when he started asking the right questions.
“If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13).
“Where are all His wonders that our ancestors told us about?” (Judges 6:13)
I have a sneaking suspicion God’s been waiting quite a while for us to ask the right questions. But the important questions don’t sell books or make the writer or preacher popular. The right questions are seldom popular. Asking them often guarantees that you won’t be asked back to speak again. I don’t have the corner market on the right questions, but some of them might sound like:
- Why does the Church seem to be losing when we’re on the winning team?
- Why does the average Christian seem bored when Jesus is suppose to provide life more abundant?
- Why do most of the stories we hear about God working powerfully, like He did in Acts, tend to come from those working in unreached areas of the world?
- Has the dynamic faith we read about in Acts been tamed into an impotent ghost of its former self?
- Have we replaced the power of the Holy Spirit with automation, processes, systems, money, and crowds?
- Why have we stripped outreach of risk and faith, and opted for security instead of dependence upon God?
- What’s the way back to becoming the dynamic force that Jesus unleashed on the world two thousand years ago?
- Does the Church even know it has lost its way, or is it like the Laodiceans, blind, poor, and wretched without realizing it? (Revelation 3:14-22)
So, I think it is time to ask questions and not continue to answer questions no one is even asking. Just a thought.
Note: Acts 1:8 reads, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”