Can I Ask You Something?

October 1, 2009

We continued last Sunday in our fall launch series, Begin Again, considering what it might mean for us as a community to be refreshed in our life together.  This past Sunday we made it personal, talking to you about you, about the deepest spiritual reality of your life.  We are not thinking of the kind of new beginning that comes because we change jobs or houses our spouses (we included some marriage talk last week).  We are talking about the kind of change that comes because the living Jesus grants our souls the ability to see clearly as we need to.  So we asked ourselves a lot of questions.

The Bible is full of questions.  God asks them of us: Where are you, Adam?  Why are you so angry, Cain?  And to the man paralyzed for 38 years, this strange but penetrating question from Jesus: do you want to get well?  And the Bible invites us to ask questions of God: where are you, Lord? why are you so far from me?  why must I wait so long?  Apparently, the Biblical tradition is very comfortable with questions, even zealous for them.

Peter Kreeft is one of my favorite philosophers, not only because of his brilliantly penetrating look at life, but because he almost always humorous way of getting to the heart of things.   At the end of one of his very engaging lectures Kreeft usually asks for questions.  And he likes to tell an anecdote about Aristotle, who once gave his students a lecture in philosophy and waited for questions.  When none were forthcoming, he reminded them that his lecture had been about levels of intelligence in the universe, and that he had said that there were three: gods, human mortals, and beasts.  The way human mortals are distinguished from gods and beasts, he said, is that they ask questions, for beasts know too little and gods know too much.  So, said Aristotle, shall I congratulate you on rising to the level of gods or assume that you been diminished to the level of beasts?  As Kreeft tells the story, his audience laughs.  Then they find themselves awake up to a very important truth: questions are like levers that move the big truths of the soul.

About 10 years ago, I was sitting with some friends, talking.  The question was posed: what are you looking for Bob?  I will never forget that moment, because a light dawned on me almost immediately.  “I am looking for clarity,” I said.  “I want to see what is going on”.  The question provoked what had to that point been an unrecognized reality living inside me.  And the moment the question came, I was helped to see something about myself, my life, and my deepest desire.  I became a human before God.

Maybe Psalm 32:9 says it best: “do not be like the horse or the mule which have no understanding but must be led around with bit and bridle”. Instead, the psalm teaches us that God wants to bring clarity into our lives: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8).  God often uses questions to guide us, because through the questions we are personally engaged.

Those are my thoughts,

Bob Osborne