Posted by: naccm | October 13, 2010

Art of Inquiry – by Tim Hawkins

Proverbs 20:5

The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters,
but a man of understanding draws them out.

Ever have someone ask you a question that just STUCK with you?  The most influential people in my life have had an ability to ask penetrating questions of me.  I’m not an expert in inquiry, but like most of us, some pivotal moments in my life were shaped by good and timely questions.

Good questions are life-changing.  It is probably why Jesus asked so many (more than 300 by some counts?!)…50 different questions in the Gospel of Mark alone in just 67 conversations!

On the other hand poor and/or irrelevant questions can be exhausting and don’t offer much to build on.

Jesus seemed to ask different kinds of questions to those who were not sure about their faith than he did of those who were arrogantly so.  Not that Jesus didn’t provide answers, but questions prepare hearts to receive answers…or discover them.  And though we prepare students to give answers to why we believe Jesus is the hope of the world, do we also prepare them to ask good questions?  It seems to be in line with caring for people like Jesus.

There is much more we could learn, so this is simply an introduction, starting with the kinds of questions we ask of those who are looking for answers rather than those who seem to already be sure of theirs.

1.  Ask to listen. – The first words John records Jesus saying are, “What do you want?” to a couple of people who began following Him after John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God.  What a great question to lead with!  What do you want?  Jesus doesn’t turn and celebrate his first two followers, “Hey guys, welcome aboard!”  The question is direct.  Jesus listens to their answer which begins, “Rabbi“.  The response tells us something of their hopes, a peek into the heart.

2.  Ask to care. – When Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well his first words to her are, “Will you give me a drink?”  Her response demonstrates this was not a normal interaction.  The question clearly is not simply a matter of need, but an extension of value.  The question changes the societal playing field.  Suddenly the interaction is not longer one of power and authority, but humility and care.  The extension of value is not just in the form of communication, but Jesus placing Himself as the one in need.

3.  Ask to invite. – Maybe the most powerful questions are those of invitation.  “Come and see,” is not a direct question, but it requires a relational response.  Conversion is never just a change in mind, conversion is a change in participation.  Come and See is an invitation to participate with us…to experience so that you may know.  I was talking with a student a few days ago about his story, and at almost every turn he used the phrase, “…and a friend invited me…”  Not, “…then a stranger convinced me…

And hopefully, invitations to “Come and See” won’t be limited to church or our weekly meetings.

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