It is perhaps one of our most deep seated tendencies as humans, that we love to live in routines and habits. This makes sense. There is great comfort in familiarity. We need to feel like we belong in order to function. But there is also a hidden danger in habits and routines – they allow us to slip into modes of thinking that are never consciously examined or thought about.
History tells us the story of a guy who was willing to stake his life on the line for the notion that the only life that is worth living is the life that is filled with examination and reflection. Socrates was put on trial by his own people for “stirring up trouble” among the young people by promoting them to reflect on life rather than to merely be a passive recipient of that which the surrounding culture has to say.
What is it with us that we seem to naturally avoid hard questions? Is it our laziness? Our fear of being found out? Yes, opening ourselves to tough questions is hard, but consider the alternative. Avoiding questions doesn’t cause them to disappear. Life itself does not slow down and stop simply because we are unwilling to consider its more troubling aspects. We are leaning heavily on our basic answers everyday, even if those answers are riddled with contradictions.
This is one of the things that often troubles me about my own christian community. The simple fact is that much of the criticism against christians being narrow minded and naive is often true. We spend all our time in our little cocoons of fellow church-goers. We do not take the time to really put ourselves into the shoes of our friends and neighbors and understand their questions about the things that we believe. Our faith perspectives are untested and therefore they are often times without real foundation. The result is that many people who call themselves christians are living a life that doesn’t even remotely resemble the one told in the christian story.
So here is my exhortation to young christians (myself included): ask questions. Don’t just take your youth group leader’s or pastor’s word for it. Why do you believe the Bible? Did Jesus really walk the streets of Jerusalem 2000 years ago? And did he really rise from the dead?
But don’t just stop with questions. This is actually the popular thing today – to ask a lot of questions, to create a cloud of doubt, and then to stand back, in awe of your wisdom. But that is not how life really works. We are always making calls, we are always going somewhere. The doubter who says, “I don’t know” is avoiding dealing with facts. Questions are just tools to help you sift through ideas and get to the facts. You have built nothing if all you have is a pile of questions. Get to work.
Christians who doge the questions that the world around directs at them are sending the subtle message that their faith cannot stand up to those questions. It is possible to hold to the right answers for the wrong reasons. Jesus may be real, but you do not really know he is real unless you have put him and his story to the test.