Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Asking Questions In The Right Order

    Bob had finally made it to the last round of the TV game show $50,000 Question TV.  Given his choice of a category, he told the host MC that he wanted a question on American History.
    The big night arrived.  Bob made his way onstage in front of the studio and TV audience.  He had become the talk of the week.  He was the best guest this show had ever seen.  The MC stepped up to the mike.
    "Bob, you have chosen American History as your final question.  You know that if you correctly answer this question, you will walk away $50,000 dollars richer.  Are you ready?"
    Bob nodded with a cocky confidence -- the crowd went nuts. He hadn't missed a question all week.
    "Bob, yours is a two-part question. As you know, you may answer either part first.  As a rule, the second half of the question is always easier. Which part would you like to take a stab at first?"
    Bob was becoming more noticeably nervous. American History was his easiest subject, but he wanted to play it safe.  "I'll try the easier part first."
    The MC nodded approvingly. "Here we go Bob. I will ask you the second half first, then the first half."  The audience grew silent with anticipation...
    "Bob, here is your question: And in what year did it happen?"
    In our Christian walk, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked.  And it seems to me that it is important not only to ask the right questions but to ask them in the right order.  The Pharisees, for example, first asked Jesus questions such as, "Why aren't you washing your hands properly?" (Matthew 15:1-3).  Even the disciples of John asked Jesus, "Why don't you fast?" (Matthew 9:14).  It's not that those were bad questions to ask.  The problem was, they were asking those questions first instead of more important questions like, "What can we do in our lives that would demonstrate justice and mercy and faith?" (Matthew 25:23) or "Who is this Jesus?" (Matthew 16:15).
    It's so easy to get caught up asking the wrong questions first.  Questions about premillennialism or the role of women in the church or which translation of the Bible we should read are not bad questions.  For that matter, asking where Cain got his wife isn't a bad question!  But those shouldn't be the first questions we ask.  Questions related to God's nature and God's desire for a relationship with us and how to demonstrate love and faith in our lives must be asked first.  Because if we get the questions out of order, we will find ourselves just as stumped as Bob was in the story above.
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at
alansmith.servant@gmail.com


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