The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
10th September 2017
I’ve been trying to regularly supply Lutheran Radio UK with weekly episodes of ‘Straight Answers to Awkward Questions’. (Sometimes the weeks just get away …!) People do send in questions – some quicker to answer – while others require research. This week two sets of random questions on a piece of paper.
Does God believe in the sanctity of marriage? How come the Holy Spirit had consensual sex with Mary?
And the second one was totally unrelated …
Did Paul meet Jesus before Damascus? Surely he could have if he was a student of Gamaliel?
I sighed. How did you feel when you read them? Curious? Shocked? Bemused? Did you laugh out loud? Scoff? They’re not the usual questions I’ve answered on this programme. These are the types of questions one might expect away from a church setting … maybe the pub, at a party, around a bbq. These questions could be asked belligerently. They could be asked mockingly. And, of course, they could be genuinely asked. The enquirer sees the world a certain way and asks to clarify the intellectual itch. We don’t want only theologically literate people asking theological questions! We want everyone and anyone asking them and then it is our responsibility to answer the question rather than guessing the motive behind the question and see what happens next.
Nevertheless in any relationship we can, over time, have an idea of people’s motives for questions. The person at work who asks mocking questions of the Christian co-worker learns over time that the questioner has his or her own agenda and the question isn’t that important. The Christian might still answer the question but may direct the answer to the perceived agenda behind the question.
This can happen a lot in families where a Christian lives with family members who have never believed in Jesus or who have left Jesus and Church somewhere in their past. In such cases Christians are often anxious that when the question is asked they will be able to give the best answer for the person because the times of such conversations are few and far between. So often Christians after they’ve answered a question kick themselves when they think of all the answers they should have given and so this whole matter gets stressful. Stressful isn’t a good way to live – especially with Jesus – each day has troubles enough of its own without us adding to them by worrying about whether and what questions may come. Of course as we study the Bible, as we worship we do grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ – and also of course it is totally ok to answer a question if you don’t know the answer with a “I don’t know the answer … I’ll look it up or go and find out and get back to you” – but we can also keep Jesus’ words in mind when he talked to his apostles, sending them into the world like sheep among wolves to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19,20 ESV). So try and not stress about when and what questions may come your way, continue to grow in the grace of Christ, love and serve those around you, and then answer truthfully and with respect the questions that come your way – and God will continue to bring his kingdom into this world.
And as for my answers … well, you’ll have to listen to Lutheran Radio UK! 😉 GS