Is that all there is?


Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is
– lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as sung by Peggy Lee

Okay I lied, only just a little bit. My point yesterday about not answering questions was a bit of an overstatement. I was trying to make a point that our job as believers is not to answer all questions people pose to us — especially not dogmatically — but to use questions as an opportunity for conversation. Dogmatic answers have a way of ending conversations. It’s all in how we go about it. But there are ways we can go about getting to some possible answers, or at least getting someone to consider some.

Do you remember the TV series Columbo starring Peter Falk as detective Columbo? He had a clever way of going about solving crimes. He’d act like he was kind of a doofus, scratching his head all the time and thinking out loud as he tried to put the pieces of a crime together. Of course he wasn’t a doofus; he was quite smart and would get people to give him the answers he wanted without them realizing it — often even implicating themselves in the process.

We need to all take a clue or two from Columbo. When dealing with questions of non-believers, we need to learn to ask more questions in response to the question they are asking. Think out loud. Scratch our heads a little. Wonder about this, and wonder about that. “What if” questions are good, too. “What if there were a God? What would that mean for you?” Instead of pouncing all over the questions with the answers, perhaps suggest trying out an answer.

Take those three questions from Blade Runner, for instance: “Where did we come from?” “Where are we going” and “How long have we got?” That would make for a significant conversation with anyone, any time. I would think about suggesting what if we came from God and were going back to Him? What if there was a destiny to our lives? I would scratch my head and wonder about how that would make us significant. Then I might even remember how it says somewhere of Jesus “knowing He had come from the Father and was going back to Him,” He wrapped a towel around His waist and started washing his disciple’s feet. This is a little beside the point, but it does point out that once we know our identity, we can be anything we want, including a servant.

Which leaves us with the most important question of all about how long we have got. This is the scary question that opens up the question of our mortality. We all know that we will not live forever. So what are we alive for? To live, to love, to reproduce, to die, to be forgotten? Is that it? “Is that all there is?” as the song goes.

What if we were alive long enough to decide what to do with God? What if God provided a way back? Wouldn’t you want to do something about that while you were still alive? What if this life were here just long enough to draw me into an eternal life with God? Then again, maybe we should just break out the booze and dance … or … maybe we should do that anyway.

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5 Responses to Is that all there is?

  1. Today’s Catch really hit home for me. My 13 year old grandson says he no longer believes in God, and I have been struggling with how to talk to him. But these questions are a great starting point for me, and a great opportunity for him to think about his life and God’s place in it. Thanks, John!

  2. Sandie says:

    In almost twenty years of counseling teens, my stint as CMA chaplain, holding bible studies, listening and counseling friends, I have discovered what I think is a spiritual truth…Jesus of course is the answer to all of our questions…but if I listen “spiritually’ the answer – or truth – can be found in the question itself. I can’t explain it – I don’t have a degree in psychology – but I know it’s true.

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