Christians are good at offering answers. We can tell you why the world is broken. We can tell you how it will all be healed. We can tell you how you should be living. We can suggest to you why you’re going through this hard time. Sometimes, a few of us even offer an unfortunate explanation for why some terrible catastrophe occurred. Answers seem to be our specialty.
Which is unfortunate, because all this answer offering is not reflective of our Lord. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus offered some seriously definitive answers (John 14:6)! But when it came to dealing with people, he was a champion question asker. In fact, in the Gospels Jesus asks a whopping 183 questions. He only answers 3 of them, and he asks 307 questions back! As Tom Hughes puts it, “Jesus does not have Q-and-A sessions. He has Q-and-Q sessions.”
“What do you want me to do for you? How do you read the Law? Where is everybody? Has no one condemned you? Who do you say that I am? What are you looking for?” And on and on and on. Jesus doesn’t just ask questions as a heuristic device; he is genuinely interested in the lives and souls of those he encounters. Among the beautiful characteristics of Jesus, we must add curious – he was intensely curious about every person he met. He lets people capture his whole attention. He is drawn into their stories, their yearnings, their needs. He is intrigued with each individual’s uniqueness. He is the curious, inquisitive Son of God. And because Jesus listens so deeply and so well, everyone he meets is eager to listen to him.
Recently I saw a glimpse of the curiosity of Jesus in a member of my congregation. Dan is a graduate student at VCU. At orientation, he approached a group of international students in his program and began asking them questions about themselves. They were so surprised by his interest in them that they initially mistook him as a government agent! But over time they realized he was genuinely interested in them, and a friendship was birthed. During Ramadan, they invited Dan and any of his friends to enjoy a Ramadan dinner with them to learn about their culture. And so a group of 20 of us from our church found ourselves sharing a meal with a group of new friends very unlike us, laughing and enjoying rich conversation, all because of Dan’s questions. All because Dan was curious about people, just like his Lord.
It’s OK to have answers sometimes. Indeed, the gospel offers the answers the world is desperate to hear. But may we be known not only for our answers but also for our questions, our relentless curiosity fueled by deep, other-oriented love.
Corey Widmer is Associate Pastor at Third Presbyterian Church and Co-Pastor of East End Fellowship, a multi-ethnic congregation in an inner city neighborhood of Richmond, VA. Corey, his wife Sarah and their four daughters live in North Church Hill and have been part of a community development effort there for the last 8 years. Corey is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Princeton Seminary, and is currently pursuing a PhD in theology. He loves the outdoors, especially biking and birdwatching.