Jesus is the Question

yellow and black door with yellow light

There are questions that need to be answered and answers that need to be questioned. The slogan “Jesus is the answer to every question,” rings hollow to most because it’s demonstrably false. What’s the price of gas? Jesus. What’s the atomic number of zinc? Jesus. It just doesn’t work.

Our penchant for superficial answers is palpable. Maybe that’s why we reduce complicated issues to the size of a saltine cracker. We don’t want to chew on things very long. Or maybe we just like to keep it salty. IDK. It’s okay to enjoy snack food. We just shouldn’t act like it’s nutritious or pretend it’s sustenance.

This craving certainly fuels the social media world which is particularly adept at inflating egos over shallow understandings of deep topics. It makes it easy to divide people into neat and unnuanced tribes where everyone is clearly on one end of the scale or the other. If you want to avoid this impulse, limit your intake of online offerings, tweets and blog posts like this, and pick up a book by a dead author who spent a lifetime wrestling with important ideas.

Instead of rushing into every topic with ready made answers, learn to ask questions. After all, that might be the most Christ-like thing you can do. In his New York Times article “Why Jesus Never Stopped Asking Questions,” author Peter Wehner gives a panoramic of Jesus’s probing personality. Citing Martin Copenhaver’s book Jesus is the Question, Wehner says Jesus was forty times more likely to give a question than an answer.

What would Jesus do? Though clich├ęd, this is a thought provoking question that has inspired a good amount of introspection, though now reduced to bumper stickers and relegated to discarded nineties style bracelets. Nonetheless, it’s a helpful reminder that we should stop and think. We should reflect. We should be quick to listen and slow to speak.

A colleague of mine, J.R. Gilhooly, recently told me about “Temporal Knowledge Syndrome,” something his college professors warned him about years ago. An illustration of this problem would be a philosophy student who takes a course at 8AM acting superior to their roommate who takes the same course after lunch since they’ve yet to hear the lecture.

We all have a tendency to act as though we’ve always known what we’ve always known and everyone else is just an idiot. We will take some kernel of truth earned by the hard work of a thoughtful leader, and race off to the masses as though we’re the real expert. We judge others for not knowing what we’ve only known for a hot second. We pretend like we’ve thought through all the issues. I’ve been guilty of this. I confess.

We need to slow. things. down.

That reminds me of a passage in the Old Testament, “Be still and know that I am God.” In the stillness we might not get all the answers. In these quiet moments we might mature a minute or two. We might even walk away with some new questions. And we’d be better off for it. Far better than if we simply fill ourselves up with junk food jargon that’s been reheated and retweeted a million times over.