questioning God

Category : God, bible, different

   

When I first started going to church (after a long hiatus) I went in with a very hostile attitude.  I didn’t want to waste my time with something that was designed to make me “feel good”.  I didn’t really need church to live my life.  I knew I could do it on my own, without that kind of crutch.  But in the back of my mind I couldn’t escape the question “what if this is true?”

Every service I would go to I would sit in the back, silently arguing with the pastor as he spoke.  I would question his theology, his choice of words, his logic, and sometimes his use of grammar.  But this strange thing happened – the more I questioned, the more frequently I began to attend church. It was as if the more I questioned, the more I needed answers to those questions.  But is it okay to ask tough questions about God?

Sometimes we are left with this impression that God forbids us to question.  That he wants us to turn off our brains and blindly follow.  I suppose sometimes Christianity is presented as a religion of lemmings instead of a religion of people actively seeking Truth.

And that’s a real shame because God never wants us to stop asking him honest questions.

A great example of this occurs in Judges, a book in the Old Testament dealing with Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s continual rescue of them.  My favorite part is the exchange between Gideon and God.  

Basically God asks Gideon to become the savior of Israel.  To which Gideon asks the very important question of “who? me?”  The next 9 verses are an account of Gideon alternating between “are you sure you have the right guy?” and “are you REALLY sure you have the right guy?”

What’s important here is not Gideon’s questions.  Instead, it’s how God responds to those questions.  Remember, this is the Old Testament, the “smote first and ask questions later” god.  Or at least that’s the general impression we often have of the Old Testament.  But there is not smoting here.  No divine lighting bolt of justice ™.  Just a patient God, with a scared man.

At one point Gilead is so bold, he demands that God prove his identity by performing a miracle.  This is exactly the kind of moment where we would expect God to say “enough with the questions!  follow me or else!”  Instead, God simply says, “I will wait until you return.”  What kind of God, when his authority is challenged, sits back and says “I will wait for you”?

If you read the surrounding verses you won’t find an additional verse that reads, “once the miracle was performed, God smote Gilead for his unbelief.”  No mention of divine wrath on Gilead for his questioning nature.  No punishment for his doubt.

God is simply patient with Gilead and gently answers each of his questions.  If God was patient with Gilead, why would he not be patient with us?  So go ahead, ask God your tough questions.  Challenge him to answer them – but just be ready when God says “I will wait for you.”

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