“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Friday, January 04, 2008

Scary questions and frightening answers

I have to admit that I like Quentin Tarantino movies.  They are quirky and they make me think.  In the film Pulp Fiction the dialogue between Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) is interesting.  There is one point in the film where the following exchange occurs.  Vincent says something to the effect "You are scaring me Jules."  Jules responds,

"If my answers frighten you Vincent, then you should cease asking scary questions."

That is the problem often, isn't it.  We don't ask the hard, the scary questions because the answers will frighten us.  You know I also think we have actually gotten to the point as a church where we have stopped asking some of the scary questions, perhaps because we have a good idea of what the answers would be.

Should my church make room for people with mental illness?
Should the Sunday school include children with autism?
Are worship services too knowledge oriented?
Do we love our neighbor as Jesus would have us love our neighbor?

The rich young ruler asked Jesus a question, for example, and he got a frightening answer.  He didn't realize that his question was scary but it sure was.  "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  I think he expected Jesus to say, "You know you are doing great.  Just keep on doing what you are doing."  But Jesus didn't say that.  He said, "You lack one thing: go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor."  Jesus' answer made the young man's question become a very scary question.  It demanded him to change, to eschew his comforts, to step out in faith, to do something he had never done before, to take his commitment to God seriously.  You see if we ask the right questions, we may get frightening answers, but it they are from God, they are the best answers, the answers that will guide us to growth in our faith and in our likeness of Jesus.

But we first need to ask the questions and the questions are very basic, very very basic to what the Christian life is all about.  Imagine asking questions like,

"Good teacher, should there be a place for everyone in the church, be they mentally ill, or physically disabled, or emotionally disturbed or mentally handicapped, or profoundly disabled, or are there some people who by their nature can be excluded from the church?"

"Jesus, am I loving my neighbor as a church if I pick and choose those in the community whom I will care about, particularly if I don't choose those who have been devalued, or are disabled, or are disenfranchised?"

"Lord, if the way we do church from Sunday School to worship service, to social gatherings, to small group Bible studies are exclusive of particular people, are those programs worth retaining in their current form or should the be scrapped in their entirety and reimagined with say, disabled people being present in mind?"

"Good teacher, if people with disabilities do not fit within the current structures of the church, should we exclude the people or change the structures?"

I suspect Jesus would look on us with love as he did to the man in the story because, hopefully we are asking out of a desire to be obedient.  But I suspect his answers would rock our world.

But we must continue to ask these scary questions even though the answers truly do frighten me as well.  As God reveals the answers to these questions to me, I pray that I will not "be shocked and go away grieving" because I was unprepared and unwilling to act in obedience to what I was told.  I am asking the questions and I am beginning to understand some of the answers as they are revealed to me.  May God give me, give us all the faith to do what we should do in spite of how the requisite changes will shock us and show us our disobedience.



Anonymous said...

I think this article is so true. It goes along the lines of the popular saying, "Be careful what you pray for." People think this way because they are afraid of the answers God may give them. God's righteous ways of thinking do not even come close to our ways of thinking. We do need to be obedient and ask God the "scary" questions and then listen and act on what He tells us. I totally agree with this articel!

Anonymous said...

I am dealing with this same issue in my own life regarding obedience to what the Lord is telling me (once the scary questions are asked) and trusting that he does not forsake me once the “scary answer” is revealed. I have been on my job for about four years and I am at a point in my life where I must grow in not only my secular life, but also my spiritual relationship with God. My first instinct into spiritual growth was simply to ask God what he would call me to do to become closer to him (yes that scary question)….and boy did I get a scary answer. He told me to leave my job in the New Year, enroll in school, and trust that he would provide. And although I thought I was prepared for the answer, I certainly didn’t anticipate that one.

So in that same respect, when asking God those questions about disabled individuals in the church, (Should my church make room for people with mental illness? -- Should the Sunday school include children with autism?, etc) we must still be obedient as children of God and do exactly what the word asks of us……to love, to help, to respect one another. If that means leaving your comfort zone to attend to someone else’s needs, we have to do it. Building that bridge between church and our disabled communities can link them to education, employment, medical care and social activities (that we all need to survive). God called the church to minister to ALL people! And it begins with the church. One important thing I will never forget hearing from a minister who has an awesome ministry for the disabled said, “We can do a lot to change the sermon, things with music and rhythm, to make a worship service that is safe and comfortable for families (including the disabled) - a place where they can go and not worry what others are thinking.”

Anonymous said...

This was an amazing passage and I believe part of God's plan for my life to read this passage. I am struggling right now with actually asking the questions because I fear the answer is not what I want. This passaged opened up my eyes and has made me realize, what I want is only a plan for now but what God wants is a plan forever. I know I need to follow God in everything and this has made me think. Also I think the subject matter of the sample questions are interesting because the answers to those could be scary to people who do not want to hear it. I am open and willing to the answers of most of those questions, although not all and probably not 100% ready for all the answers. I really enjoyed this passage and thank God and the writer for working in my life.