Questions are so much better than answers.
If I had a Book of Answers to sell you or a Book of Questions, which one would you be interested in? There was a time when I would have bought the Book of Answers, because that’s what I was looking for. I wanted the answers to life’s problems. I wanted to answer everyone’s questions. I thought that if Christianity answered everything, then everyone would want to be a Christian.
Actually the opposite is the case. Answers are what make Christians boring and dogmatic. With answers, it turns out to be “my way or the highway,” and who wants to cozy up to that? Christians who have bought the Book of Answers in many ways discourage the process by which people actually come to faith in Christ. Answers lead to a dead end. There’s nothing more to talk about — nothing more to explore.
Answers are stagnant. Answers so often end the conversation. There’s nowhere else for the discussion to go. So there it is; there is the answer — take it or leave it — and if there are no more questions, then I guess we’re done.
In contrast, questions humble us. They open us up. Questions lead to lively discussions that almost always lead to more questions. Questions make us think. They help us to know each other more deeply. Questions feed the conversation as we walk alongside others. No matter how far we go, there will still be questions on the table, sometimes more than when we started. So we are never “done.”
Questions reveal where we agree and where we don’t, but even when we don’t, questions allow us to keep the discussion open-ended. We’ll come back to it another time. Who knows: we might see things differently the next time we talk. Questions allow us to live with each other in the meantime.
Most importantly, questions capture the magnificence of God more than answers do. I’m always amazed when I look at the Book of Job and discover how there are more questions in the end of that book when God finally speaks and “answers” Job’s questions than there are in the beginning. In other words, God answers Job’s questions with even more questions — the weight of which crushes Job in showing him how little he is and how grand and all powerful God is. Indeed, His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. So much so that Job proclaims in the end, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-7). Repent? What did Job have to repent of? The notion that he and all his friends could actually have an answer to his situation. There are certain things we simply cannot know, and there is no one who can answer that except to humbly repent of the assumption that you could.