Have you ever considered the power of a question? Has a well-aimed question ever stopped you in your tracks?
The right question, for the right person at the right time can be a life changer. But the wrong question for the wrong person at the wrong time can make a friend a stranger.
The right question for the right person at the right time has to power to disarm presuppositions and reveal the heart’s true condition.
Since our childhood, we’ve innately known that it’s better to be asked than to be told. It is one thing to be told something by someone. It’s quite a different matter to allow a question to awaken our curiosity and send us on down the path of discovery.
If someone tells us something, we may or may not believe it, because it’s just another person’s opinion. It has been said that if someone says, “I believe” or “I think”, it guarantees dissent in about half of the listeners – just because we are ornery creatures by nature. On the other hand, if we are not told something, but discover it on our own, we will treasure our find as more valuable than gold.
Jesus knew this, and his questions recorded in scripture are a masterpiece of discovery. He, of course, has no need to inquire since he already knows the answer. He inquires, not so that he might be illuminated, but so that we might be illuminated with a greater understanding of Him, His creation and ourselves. Discovery of truth is not self-taught. It is God-wrought. And it often begins with a question.
Jesus began his ministry with questions. His first words recorded by John were, “What are you looking for?” (John 1:37). Luke, not to be outdone, records the Lord’s first words as two questions. “Why are you searching for me?” “Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
Close your eyes and contemplate Jesus asking you these questions. “What are you looking for?” and “Why are you searching for me?”. In all our ingenuity we could never formulate two questions nearly as effective as these in causing our masks to be removed, our souls to be exposed and our knees to bend in worship. His holy presence only serves to infuse the question with divine power. Any Tom, Dick or Harry may ask you the same innocent question. It is an entirely different to be asked the same question by the Lord of all Creation!
This truth has immediate relevance for those who attempt to preach, teach or reach others with the truth. Instead of starting a discourse with “I”, consider starting with a question of “Why?”
Instead of impressing others with how much we know, we must lead others to be impressed with how much they can discover. Here are three practical steps toward that end.
Ask questions that lead to direct interaction with the Word of God. Many times leaders of a group wonder why there is a nervous silence every time a question is asked. “My goodness,” they say. “The people in my group are so dim!”. Consider that it may not be the people that are dim, but rather the questions that are dim. Remember, the people in most groups have not had the luxury of pondering the text for hours in preparation as the leader has. They are coming tired from a long day of work. The leader’s thoughts, observations and discoveries, brilliant as they may be, can serve to distance the group member from personal interaction with the text. Instead of asking, “Do you see what I see?” let us ask, “What do you see?”
Guide your class toward discovery with questions such as, Who?, What?, When?, Where? and Why? Make photocopies of the biblical text under consideration. Provide five different colored pencils and have your group members underline every reference to “who?” with green, for example,, every “what?” with blue, and so on.
Open the floor for a time of discovery sharing and be amazed at the excitement that ripples through your group! Very rarely will people answer our finely crafted questions with excitement. But they will be barely able to contain themselves as they share their own exciting discoveries.
And it all begins with a simple question.