A year ago, I asked our congregation to write down questions they have about our faith. No question was off limits. People asked a ton of great questions: “Will we know each other in heaven?” “If we should love our enemies, is it ok to fight back against someone if it is defense?” Some were thought-provoking: “Does God love the devil?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” My personal favorite was, “Do animals go to heaven?”, written in crayon by one of our preschoolers.
This exercise sparked a good season of looking at the Bible and asking God our questions together. For some we found compelling answers. With others we wrestled with no conclusion and continue the journey in community.
Questions are an important part of my life. I’ve always been inquisitive. Even as a child I loved asking questions, much to the chagrin of many of my teachers. “Why is the sky blue?” “Where did the dinosaurs go?” “What does God look like?” One of the most frustrating moments of my childhood was when a fifth-grade teacher decided to stop answering my questions. From that point on I was done with that class, which is quite awkward when you’re barely two months into the school year.
Sometimes as we grow older we lose our inquisitiveness, and we are afraid to ask questions. It’s easier to sit with the answers we already know, the ones we’ve been taught our whole lives without looking deeper. If God is as amazing as we say God is, then God can handle our asking questions. Even if that means asking the harder questions.
In this season, those of us at Cornerstone Community Church are talking with our neighbors, family and friends that don’t have a church community and are discussing questions they have about the Christian faith. We hope and pray this will lead to good conversations with people that we care about; it may surprise our friends to know that we have similar questions. God is still mysterious, and we don’t know everything. But we are willing and able to help our neighbors discover the answers.
We will hear our neighbors when they ask, “How can God let someone young die?” “Did God take a vacation when all of these bad things happened, or does God not exist?” They are hard questions, sometimes full of profanity. They’re often questions filled with hurt, but questions that if we’re honest we might have, too. They’re questions worth sitting with and exploring together.
I invite you to ask your friends, family members and neighbors that don’t go to church what questions they have about your faith. It might open doors to new conversations. It may enable you to make a connection with someone you’ve struggled to befriend. It might lead to someone learning more about Jesus. When we as Christ-followers are willing to hear our neighbor’s questions and not feel threatened by them, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us.
Ben Friesen is lead pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Topeka, Kan. He is married to Caitlin Friesen, a former pastor at North Fresno Church, a USMB congregation in Fresno, Calif. Friesen enjoys reading, disc golfing and the occasional trip to the zoo. He is a graduate of Tabor College and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.