|Image from remnantresource.org|
It was not surprising that no one asked how tall someone was or how old they were (scientifically verifiable questions which would have pleased Richard Dawkins). Instead, they asked questions which required thoughtful responses. One student asked another, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" The responder lifted their eyes upward and began to speak of faraway places they dreamed of visiting, explaining why these particular sites were important to them. Another student informed the class that he had been asked, "How do you want to die?" He indicated that one could not answer that question with a surface response; he had to dig deep.
It was (hopefully) a practical way to illustrate that the questions we ask about God, in large part, determine what kind of answers we get. Asking for scientific evidence for the existence of God might seem important, but it tells us little about who God is or what kind of God we are trying to prove exists. Because God revealed himself through the person of Jesus, I believe that the questions we ask about God should not primarily focus on matters of science or language or historical accuracy, but matters of character. When we get to know someone, we are not particularly concerned about how they make a sandwich; we want to know if the person is good, trustworthy, kind, just, generous, wise, interesting, capable, creative, and fun to be with. No offense to sandwich-makers.
This made me think about my own questions about God, and in particular, my prayers. What kind of questions do I ask of the Divine? Simple yes or no queries? A litany of requests for help and a desire for things to turn out well? Or do I ask questions that search deeper into the person of God? What if we asked God the questions which my students came up with?
God, if you could go anywhere, were would you go? I believe we find the answer in the cry of a humble baby born to a young mother in Bethlehem: "I want to be close to my beloved people." Here we have a God who pursues loving relationships.
God, how would you want to die? If we look at the crucifixion of Christ, I believe we have our answer: "I want to die by giving my life for the sake of another." This is a God who freely gives himself.
May I learn from my students and begin asking much better questions of God.