What would you ask God?
If you had the opportunity to ask God anything…and He would definitely answer…what would you ask?
What if you could ask Him only one thing…what question would be most important to you?
Would it be personal? Why something awful happened to you or someone you love?
Would it be scientific? Do you really wonder how light can be both a wave and a particle at the same time? 🙂
Would it be one of those "meaning of life" type of questions? Would you want to know why you are here?
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
Once we get everyone to actually return our first church survey, maybe the next one we should be simply, "If you can ask God anything you want, what would be your top 5 questions?" Even if we don't do that, it may be a good individual exercise for each of us.
Questions Others Would Ask
If you go searching the web you'll see that a lot of people have taken the time to share their (or other's) questions for God. I hope you'll humor me by listening to some I found.
We'll start with a site called, of all things, "Big Questions." Their intro to "10 Questions for God" started like this:
What are your biggest questions?
What would you like to ask The Big G, um, you know, The Almighty (if you had His phone number)?
We ran surveys asking people just that.1
And their tabulated results were…
- Why don't you stop pain & evil?
- Can love really work?
- Sex: do you approve?
- Is the occult real?
- Is heaven real?
- Will the world end?
- Who was Jesus?
- Does prayer work?
- Did you create the world?
- Did you write the Bible?
I'll admit that not even taking the time to list my top ten, there are only one or two of those that might end up on my list. How about you?
Even most of those wouldn't rise to the top of my list, I think they are all very legitimate questions. Perhaps the reason they don't rate high for me is that I believe the Bible has already answered all of them: Free will, yes, yes, yes and no, yes, yes, the Son of God, yes, yes, and yes. However, if you survey people across a wide spectrum of beliefs and backgrounds, you can imagine why they would ask questions like those.
Another interesting list I found was on a British newspaper's site. Now, The Times' list isn't really of questions for God…but you'll see most of them are ones that God alone can answer, whether in person or via Scripture. We'll start with their intro to the "Top twenty questions children ask about life and God"…
Children are baffling their parents with existential questions about God and the meaning of life according to a survey.
As well as the expected questions about sex, queries about God featured highly in children's queries that parents were unable to answer.
The research among 1,500 parents and children aged eight to 12 was carried out by publishers Dorling Kindersley for its Eyewitness Guides for youngsters. It showed that children are asking their parents about the origin of God, life after death, the creation of the universe.
Twenty questions parents said were unanswerable.2
So…what we are about to read are 20 questions that baffled parents…and that the parents said were unanswerable. Let's see how many baffle you…
- Does God exist?
- Has God got a beard?
- Is there life after death?
- If God made us who made God?
- What does God look like?
- Why is the world here?
- Who created God?
- Why are people bad to each other?3
- Why are we here? Am I real or is this just a dream?
- If God is everywhere why do we have to go to church to see him?
- Why can't we ring God up?
- Why does Easter change its dates each year?
- Why is God all around us?
- Why is there a world?
- Why is there so much war in the world?
- Why do we have wars?
- Why do I believe in one God while my Hindu friend believes in lots and is my God the same as my Jewish friends?
- Do you know why Jesus wept?
- Who made the universe?
- Does God have a mum?4
Children can come up with the best questions, can't they? Now, we may put some of those in different words…for instance instead of asking if God's got a beard, we might ask if He has a physical body…but sometime in your life haven't you wondered pretty much every one of those…even why Easter's date changes every year? 🙂
Would any of those make your top 10?
How many of those can you answer?
Staying with the more youthful members of our society, the Coaching Center asked hundreds of students, "If you could ask God any question, what would it be?" The top 5 responses:
1. Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
2. Will God really forgive all of my sins?
3. What does the future hold for me?
4. What does God want from me?
5. Aren't all religions the same?
Again…all great questions…and we are starting to see some common queries…even if they are worded differently. Things like:
- Why do (so many) bad things happen?
- What's in the future…my future?
- Why am I here?
- Is there more than one path to God?
Would those make your top 10? Can you answer them?
Of course, not every list of questions for God out there is serious. One un-named writer who has the URL sypercynic.wordpress.com (and the blog, "The Daily Wit") says…
I have some serious questions for God when the day comes to go see him. But those are between the Big Man and me. Here, though, are some not so serious questions that I think he should address. In no particular order, here we go (and, as always, feel free to throw in your two cents):
- Mosquitoes. Why? [ Any New Hampshirite wants to know the answer to this one! ]
- Why does my golden retriever, and most dogs, like to roll on dead animals?
- Bigfoot. Why won't you let us find one?
- Ghosts. Why won't you let us find one?
- Why does metabolism vary so much from person to person? I know a guy who can make a pizza buffet owner cry, and he has a 32 inch waist. I, on the other hand, just typed the word "pizza" and gained 5 pounds. [ And I gained 10 points reading this entry to you 🙂 ]
- Why did you make me an Ole Miss fan? [ You can replace "Ole Miss" with any team you root for that consistently disappoints and/or chokes… ]
- Why did you lead me to a hot, humid place? If your answer is that you're preparing me for Hell, I'm not buying it.
- Why are there people who go to baseball games and yell "Air ball" when the opposing batter hits a foul ball or fails to hit the ball at all?
- Why do humans like nice neat numbers like Top Ten? Why is Top Nine so less desirable?
Now…I removed all the extra foof he had around the questions…but I'm sure some of those hit home or at least made you chuckle…and I'm sure we could put together a pretty humorous list ourselves.
Another blogger with the handle "mikicagle" shared her list of 5 questions for God…and as we return to the serious side of the discussion, certain themes recur:
- Why Are People Who Would Make Wonderful Parents Unable to Have Children Yet Terrible Parents Seem to Be Able to Breed Like Rabbits? [ Okay…this one might still be more on the humorous side…but she actually was seriously wondering if you visit her entry. ]
- Why Do You Allow some People to Have So Much and Others to Have Nothing?
- Why Do Children Have to Suffer?
- What's the Deal With Ghosts and Psychics?
- Why Am I Here?5
Again…I removed a bunch of extra stuff she wrote around her questions, but did mikicagle match your personal list better?
Can you answer her concerns?
One last list…
One last list before we spend a little time in Scripture. (About time, eh?) I share this one because it not only confirms that certain questions are common, but it adds a very important one that I suspect is not asked often enough. EV Church says…
Ok – we asked for your top questions for God and you questioned! Over four weeks in January we'll be answering from the Bible your top four questions for God:
- Why do innocent people suffer?
- Why doesn't God Make [sic] himself clearer?
- Does it really matter which religion I go for?
- I've got no questions…so what?6
"I've got no questions…so what?"…now that's a new one (as is "Why doesn't God make Himself clearer")…and in an age where it seems more and more people don't seem to care to learn about why we are here, what exists after death (if anything)…etcetera…isn't the answer to "I've got no questions…so what? one we'd really like to get them to pay attention to?
Isn't it a far worse condition not to care than it is to not know the answers…or even to have the wrong ones as long as you continue to search for the truth?
Can you answer "so what"?
Now…if you are feeling a sense of cognitive dissonance, it may be because I called this sermon, "50 Reasons to Question God"…not "50 Questions for God"…which is really the angle I've spent up to now on.
When I say "reasons to question" God, how does that differ from "questions for God"?
"Reasons to question" infers you are second-guessing Him…asking Him to explain Himself. He's done (or is going to do) something wrong…and it's time for Him to answer. As Christians, I suspect Paul's words to the Romans quickly come to mind:
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" (Romans 9:18-20)
"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?"
Looking specifically at the first sentence in verse 20, other translations can give us further insight into what Paul is saying.
The New Revised Standard Version:
But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God?
The New International Version:
But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?
The King James Version:
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?
The Contemporary English Version:
But, my friend, I ask, "Who do you think you are to question God?
The Amplified Version:
But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God?
The New Century Version:
You are only human, and human beings have no right to question God.
Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question?
Based on those 8 translations of the first sentence in Romans 9:20…do you think I can give you 50 reasons to question God? Would it be far better to go with the old saying, "God said it. I believe it. That's all there is to it?"
50 Reasons to Question God
After all those lists I can't imagine you really want me to list 50 reasons to question God. At this point your stomachs are probably rumbling in anticipation of the pot-luck that waits for me to wrap things up. So, instead…in one Scripture I will give you 50 reasons to question God. Let's turn to Genesis 18:22-33…where we join Abraham and God after our Lord has let Abraham know He is likely to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah:
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" 26 And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." 29 Again he spoke to him and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." 30 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." 31 He said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." 32 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it." 33 And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Abraham started with 50 reasons to question God…and slowly worked it down to 10. Abraham's 50 reasons were the potential of 50 righteous people in those two sinful cities…and He questioned God…questioned what our Lord intended to do. It must have been unimaginable to Abraham that there wouldn't be 50…45…40…30…20…at least 10 righteous people in the city (although it does seem like he was hedging his bets while he was thinking and talking about it).
So instead of just saying, "God said it. I believe it. That's all there is to it."…Abraham asked God to "explain Himself"…and…implicitly…God did…by confirming that "the Judge of all the earth [would] do what [was] right."
What is the difference between the people that Paul did the "who do you think that you are?" slap-down to and Abraham? Four things that Abraham said clear that up:
- "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes."
- "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak."
- "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord."
- "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there."
Abraham might have been scratching his head…I would suggest because he didn't understand man as well as God does and really thought there were at least 10 righteous people in those damned cities…and he didn't hesitate to ask the Lord hard questions when his perception of man and of God collided.
But…and this is a very important but…Abraham understood exactly who he was…and who He (with a capital "H") is…and very, very respectfully asked his questions…with a heart that honestly wanted the answers.
Although the nature of the dialogue in Romans 9 doesn't make it clear who Paul was speaking to…or even if his "conversation" was just to make a point (instead of speaking to a specific group)…"Who are you, O man, to answer back to God" is clearly a response to people didn't approach the subject understanding who they were and who He (with a capital "H") is. It is the type of thing you say to rebellious people who have no intent to accept anything you say…they are not honestly asking questions.
By the way…if you think I am making too much of a single incident in Scripture to say it's okay to question God…then after church take a look at Exodus 32:9-14 and Numbers 14:11-20…and think how lucky the Israelites were that Moses thought it was okay to question God when the Lord told him He was going to wipe away all the Jews and make a new nation out of Moses…
The most important question…
Now…especially considering my "norm"…it may seem that I spent way too much time giving lists of questions for God and not enough time sharing scriptures. However, I would argue that until you can give people reasonable and (at least to an honest questioner) somewhat satisfying answers to at least some of those valid questions, you will never be able to get them to ask the most important question of all.
The one that, for us mortal humans, really gets to the heart of the matter.
Do you know what that question is?
It wasn't on a single one of those lists I shared (or others I saw).
What must I do to be saved?
Next week we will ask God that question…respectfully…and He will answer it…
110 Questions For God. (n.d.). Big Questions. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://www.bigquestions.com/10qs/
710 Questions For God – Home. (n.d.). Big Questions. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://www.bigquestions.com/10qs/home/index.htm
2Sugden, J. (2007, July 19). Top twenty questions children ask about life and God. Times Online. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2097654.ece
4Sugden, J. (2007, July 19). Top twenty questions children ask about life and God. Times Online. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2097654.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2
8Top Ten (Not Serious) Questions For God. (n.d.). The Daily Wit. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://supercynic.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/top-ten-not-serious-questions-for-god/
5mikicagle. (2010, November 6). The Top Five Questions I Would Ask God. List My 5. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://www.listmyfive.com/bef9b50d/The-Top-Five-Questions-I-Would-Ask-God
6If you could ask God a question what would it be? (n.d.). EV Church. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from http://evchurch.info/top4/