In a world that offers too many bad answers and not enough good questions, Christians should be known for our curiosity.
The Church has always had a love-hate relationship with curiosity. On the one hand, much of what we know about science, medicine, and innovation in the western world has been rooted in an abiding faith in the God of the universe, which has then motivated the exploration of exactly what that universe entails.
On the other hand, new ideas often threaten our traditions, and that’s when we have ended up expelling from our midst those who have the audacity to claim that the earth is round or that the sun does not revolve around it.
Ultimately, the churn of our recycled answers leads us to an ever diminishing well of wisdom and truth. But the world is full of so much more than what we already know.
Christians have the anchor of truth, which is Scripture—(when it is rightly interpreted and applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. But while the Bible is comprehensive in what it tells us about the meaning of life and the purpose of humanity, it is not exhaustive. In short, there is lots left for us to discover.
In fact, that discovery is part of the purpose that God has assigned to humanity. As the crown jewel of creation, God commissioned humanity to have dominion over the earth, to be fruitful in it and multiply. And while that mandate has often been interpreted to be referring to procreation, multiplying what God has given to us is so much more. It’s a call to innovate. To ask good questions and seek truth in our world that in turn allows us to build better communities and societies.
While Christians are often known for our fundamentalism—or, to put it more charitably, our commitment to eternal truths that remain unchanging—we should be just as well known for our curiosity.
Here are three reasons why every Christian should work hard to cultivate curiosity in their lives.
1. Jesus Was a Master Question Asker.
Jesus is the incarnate God. You would think that he wouldn’t have any questions to ask. After all, God knows everything. The world was literally created through and by Jesus (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). What more could he need to learn?
Yet Jesus was always asking questions. Whenever questioned, he would reply in turn. And while some may interpret that to merely be a part of Jesus’ communication skills and use of rhetoric, I think it was motivated by his curiosity. He truly wanted to know what was behind every question, the place it was coming from, the heart that motivated it, and the truth about the human condition that it revealed.
Too often, when we are posed with a question, we are quick to jump and provide an answer based on the information we currently have available to us. And that’s because, as Christians, we feel the need to be the “answer” people. After all, Peter instructed us to always be prepared to give one (1 Peter 3:15).
And to be sure, if you know the Scriptures and are reasonably intelligent, you have some really good answers to give. But maybe you are giving good answers to questions that aren’t even being asked. Maybe you need to start asking better questions. Be curious about the questions posed by others, rather than allowing uncertainty to fill you with anxiety. Be more comfortable with saying, “I don’t know,” and then pursuing your curiosity to find out what you can learn.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t speak boldly and clearly about the saving message of Jesus or important points of Christian doctrine. Jesus did that too. But don’t allow the tension of uncertainty to lead you toward fundamentalism. Allow your questions to enable your curiosity to blossom as you pursue more satisfying answers that will ultimately be even more faithful to scripture than our canned, Sunday school, jargon laden answers.Jesus was always asking questions. Click To Tweet
2. Pursuing Your Questions Will Not Only Lead You on a Path to Discovering Truths About the World but Also to Unearthing Truths Within You.
The act of asking questions is a transformative process. When you ask questions, you begin to unearth not only the things you didn’t know about the world around you, but things you didn’t even know about yourself.
As you are presented with the discomfort of uncertainty, learn to question your discomfort. Explore your unknown biases, beliefs, and values that are a source of anxiety when questioned. Why is it that you think and feel the things you do? Is it because you have arrived at them through an exploration of the possible options? Or is it because you have accepted truths without thinking about them, and now you fear how your worldview may crumple like a house of cards if any of those assumptions are questioned?
If God’s truth really is eternal and immutable, it can handle the prodding of our questions as to its veracity. If we chase our curiosity down the rabbit hole, we will discover one of two things. Either we will have a firmer foundation of confidence in the beliefs we hold, or we will learn that what we have believed is more informed by our experience and culture than it is God’s word of truth. Either way, the process is transforming us.
To repeat a cliché, life is more about the journey than it is the destination. And if our eternal destination is sure in Christ Jesus, it’s good to stray from the path we’re on in search of a path that is more closely aligned with God’s purposes for our lives.If God's truth really is eternal and immutable, it can handle the prodding of our questions as to its veracity. Click To Tweet
3. God Created the World With Built-in Opportunities for Wonder.
When you look at the poetry of scripture, so much of it is filled with wonder. They were enthralled by the stars in the sky, the strength of the ocean’s waves, the rain that caused plants to grow, and enraptured with the idea that God is steadfast in his love for us even when we’re not.
If you’re anything like me, you sometimes find such a simple sense of wonder to be somewhat naive. But that isn’t wisdom speaking. It’s cynicism. It’s a loss of the wonder that God created in this world for you to enjoy.
When you begin to accept how much there is that you don’t know or understand, you begin to realize exactly how small and finite you are. You begin to gain a scope for how much there is left for you to discover. A life lived in pursuit of curiosity will never grow tired of new insights in familiar settings, or old insights discovered in new environments.
You might know many things. But knowledge isn’t the same as wisdom. Wisdom requires humility. Humility melts away cynicism. And the catalyst is your curiosity—your active desire to experience wonder.You might know many things. But knowledge isn't the same as wisdom. Click To Tweet
Curiosity is a Spiritual Discipline.
When Jesus clashed with the Pharisees during his ministry, it wasn’t because he thought everything they did was wrong. In fact, there was no other group that he was more closely aligned with theologically than the Pharisees.
It’s just that the Pharisees thought they knew everything, had learned everything, had mastered everything. It’s that arrogance that cut them off from experiencing the presence of God and caused them to spit in the face of the Messiah they had been waiting for when he was in their midst.
May the same not ever be said of us. May we have the humility to explore our curiosity, the faith to trust God in the midst of uncertainty, and revel in the sense of wonder that is all part of being a human made in the image of God.