A good question is worth more than a hundred answers. Good questions are often in short supply in an age which lusts after certainty. We prize answers and we despise questions. We love certainty, and we fear uncertainty. We demand certain trumpets from the pulpit to the White House to Wall Street. Offering of a complex answer is viewed as weakness and lack of conviction. We want our leaders to always be sure; even if they are seldom right. We demand guarantees instead of hope. H. L. Mencken once said, “That every complex question has a simple answer and it is always simply wrong. LIFE IS COMPLEX.” We need thoughtful reflection and humble prayer to be prudent in our dealings with others. Good questions challenge us to think, pray and be prudent. Good questions force us to examine those areas of our lives we should rather leave in darkness.

In the Epistle of James 4:1, the author offers a good question. “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?” (NRSV). We might respond: out there! It is society, our environment or the difficult neighbor that accounts for all my problems vices. If only I could remove the external, the internal would be fine. We blame it to circumstances or others which help to explain the way we are. But the author of James offers a different approach.

“Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? What you desire you do not obtain, and so you resort to murder” (4:1-2). Our troubles lie in human heart-a metaphor for inner being. We want to assert our will, wield power over and dominate everything and everyone for our selfish ends. Within our inner beings we experience envy, rage, murderous intent. Our general hardness of mind destroys communities and families. “The other is no longer a friend but an enemy; the other is not a gift but a threat; the other becomes hell from whom there is no exit” (Sartre).

How can we overcome this so that our lives can become a question to others? Christ answer is most unexpected: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me….” (Mark 9:37). Those whose lives become a question to others must be childlike (not childish or immature). This is not easy. We try to fill ourselves up with material things, relationships, and honors. Yet none give lasting peace. It is only when we open our minds and hearts in childlike faith that God can fill us with what we truly need. If we try to find wholeness in and with the world, we are doomed to failure. The distractions are outside, but our cravings come from within. Most often, in our search for lasting peace, we look in the wrong places. As the author of James succinctly put: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on yourpleasures” (4:3).

Childlike living often evokes the anger of those around us. WE BECOME A SIGN OF CONTRADICTION.
We challenge people to change and live in a new way.

To turn from our inner cravings and welcome Jesus, like a child, in our faith is to be on the road to spiritual maturity. However, we must not be surprised at the opposition of others. We are a challenge. WE BECOME A QUESTION TO OTHERS. And questions are not always welcomed.

Pastor Gideon

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