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I wrote the title of this post a couple of weeks ago and then somehow it ended up in my draft box. The funny thing is, I was sitting down to write today’s post and thought, I need to talk about asking questions … and there was my draft … complete with a title and no text. I think this post was meant to be.
I have the privilege of leading a group of women through the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development course called “Acts: Keys to the Establishment and Expansion of the First Century Church.” We put to use the Socratic method of discussion, which simply means, we ask the questions and wrestle with the answers. Yesterday, we processed through some particularly difficult questions and today my email inbox is filled with comments like this …
Yesterday’s discussion was so good, it carried with me all day. Truly the highlight of my day. Thank you Vicki and ladies for the encouraging, stimulating conversation. My brain is growing. I can feel it!!:)
I think our discussion today was very encouraging and each persons input was so valuable!
I have always been one to ask lots of questions. I’m pretty sure it started at a young age when I peppered my parents and grandparents with “Why? … How? … Who? … When? … Where?) This is natural for young children and many kids outgrow that stage to some degree, but I’m convinced it’s not a stage to be outgrown. We need to ask the questions, especially when it comes to Bible study.
The Antioch course I’m currently taking myself, as I pursue my MMin., is called “Interpreting the Word I.” I’m reading a ton of great material about how to interpret the Word of God. (I’m going to share some of the things I learn over the next couple of months! You get the fruit of my labor and you don’t have to pay tuition! Sweet!)
One thing I was reminded of this week is that when we are approaching Scripture, our #1 task is to pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word and then to take a humbly repentant stance toward myself and my past experiences and a receptive stance of faith toward the truth the Holy Spirit will reveal. I need to ask the question, “What concerns do I have about the text based on my personal past circumstances and from my cultural experiences?” Here’s the deal – we all have “stuff” that we carry around with us and it’s right there when we sit down with our Bibles. That “stuff” can blind us to what God desires to reveal in the text. On the other hand, that “stuff” can also make us more mindful of the text as we search for answers to pressing questions and concerns.
Ask the questions, my friend. Profess a genuine desire for the Holy Spirit to peel back the “stuff” and lay bare your soul, making it painfully clear when you are approaching the text with wrong thinking or attitudes resulting from past experiences.
Asking the questions opens the door for enthusiastic dialogue about tough subjects. (Reread the responses from yesterday’s Acts participants!) One of the brilliant minds in my Interpreting the Word course sent an email to the rest of the class. He was asking questions that caused us to think deeply. I’m going to share his questions with you. I’d love to hear your responses. You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine in my next post.
I came across an ethical dilemma that I would like the brain trust’s opinion about. I see a potential conflict between 1 Cor 8 and 1 Cor 9. Let me set up three scenarios for you in order to elucidate this dilemma:
Scenario 1: a Jewish Christian and a gentile Christian are coming over for dinner. Both are young in the faith. You are only able to serve one meal The Jewish Christian requests that you serve kosher food. According to 1 Cor 8, you should serve the kosher food lest you cause the Jewish brother to stumble. Yet you run the risk of moving the Gentile Christian toward legalism. With whom does your priority lie?
Scenario 2: same situation, except this time the Gentile is an unbeliever. 1 Cor 8 says serve kosher food, 1 Cor 9 says become a Gentile to the Gentiles in order to win them to Christ. You’re concerned that by serving kosher food it may cause your gentile friend to think being a Christian means observing Jewish law. You can’t make kosher and non-kosher food. With whom does your priority lie?
Scenario 3: same situation as 2, Jewish believer and Gentile unbeliever. Except this time the Jewish believer is your mom and dad. You’re told to respect your elders and thy really want kosher food, but you’re concerned it will cause this gentile to associate Christ with Jewish law. With whom does your priority lie?
Okay, friends, grab your Bibles and ask the questions. Do you feel it? I think your brain is growing!