asking right questions

Each of us is bombarded with information. Every day we encounter new facts and opinions that writers and newscasters and self-proclaimed experts want us to accept. Let’s face it, in all areas of knowledge there are some issues about which experts in those fields disagree. In Neil Browne’s book “Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking” he rightly observes that “You as a reader [or listener] have the tough job of deciding which authority to believe….As a thoughtful person you must choose how you will react to what you see and hear. One alternative is to just accept whatever you encounter; doing so automatically results in your making someone else’s opinion your own. A more active alternative consists of asking questions in an effort to reach a personal decision about the worth of what you have experienced.”

The problem we face is this: What is the right question to ask? I often have people ask me if it is wrong for a believer to engage in a certain practice. Take drinking alcoholic beverages for example. The question I hear is this: Is it wrong for a believer to use alcoholic beverages? But you see that is the wrong question. The question is not “What is wrong with it?” The right question to ask is this: “What is right about it?” With that question I am not thinking in terms of what I can or cannot do…nor am I posing in my mind the issue of how close I can walk to some line and still be ok… godly… Christian! Rather, I am forced now to think of what is best for Christ and His Gospel. The answer is not about what I can do for me, but what am I able to do for Christ!

This is why Paul counsels us in Colossians 3:1-3 about restructuring our thinking when it comes to our life choices. 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Conversion literally changes our thought patterns. The presence of the Holy Spirit brings a new spiritual influence into our lives. The result is that we now engage in a whole different approach to life and the desires of life. The selfish life always asks the question –what is wrong with this- why can I not do this? The selfless life, on the other hand is preoccupied with Christ and thus asks the question – what is right about this- if I did this how would it impact Christ and His gospel?

Why do we struggle with asking the right questions? Henri Nouwen in his book “The Inner Voice of Love” gives us a possible answer: “In many ways, you still want to set your own agenda. You act as if you have to choose among many things, which all seem equally important. But you have not fully surrendered yourself to God’s guidance. You keep fighting with God over who is in control.”

Are you ready to ask the right questions? Think it thru