I’ve always encouraged students to ask questions—lots of them, constantly, probingly. If we ask enough questions we will eventually hit upon the “right questions.” If we keep asking “Why” we will eventually get to the deeper and best explanations of things.
I may not have been entirely correct.
Recently, I listened to Bill Robinson. He serves as Interim President of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities here in the United States. He drew a valid distinction between “generous questions” and “ungenerous ones.” Or, if you prefer, “right” questions versus “wrong” ones.
When Jesus’ disciples happened upon the man born blind (see John 9: 1-3), they immediately wanted to know who they should blame—this man or his parents?—that he should be born blind. It was a question that the man’s family and friends had no doubt asked for years. Surely there is always a culprit behind suffering; a villain to identify. Why is he this way? Who should shoulder the responsibility?
Jesus essentially says: “Wrong question!” Instead, He proposed a different way to look at the circumstance. How can this situation bring glory to God?
That’s the right question—the generous question—the question we should all embrace more readily.
We look at the homeless. Who is to blame? This person or their parents? Are they willing to work? What mistakes did they make to end up in this place?
We look at the sick, the afflicted, the abused, and the trafficked. Who is to blame? What might they have done to bring this on themselves? What bad choices have they made?
We look at the unemployed. Who is to blame? Have they tried hard enough to get a job? What sort of work ethic do they have, anyway? Why don’t they get more training and express more motivation?
The generous question seeks not to lay blame but to elevate the glory of God. How can this situation bring glory to God?
Not all questions have moral validity. Some questions may even shut down future possibilities. Rather than open the windows of opportunity, they slam the door shut. They breed judgmentalism, not hope.
Our questions themselves are acts of law or grace. Let’s be generous this week.