I really do like quotes.
I’ve done a blog on quotes before. I really enjoy pithy, profound things to say. They resonate. Some of my favorite Bible verses are short ones. I really like certain sentences that just kind of stick! and stay on your mind. My little lady friend has a quote book, where she catalogs all sorts of things she likes that people say. Her mom got me one for Christmas. I have filled up like 5 pages of it already, and it’s a pretty big notebook.
Quotes are great.
Today in class, I was hit with one that I can’t really seem to shake. I’m taking a class on the history of Christianity. It is taught by Dr. Heiser (to read about why he is very close to the top of my “favorite teachers” list, read this). Dr. Heiser was laying out a lot of guidelines and tips for these research papers we have to write in his class. Writing a true history paper is tough because you can no longer get by with regurgitating information. In college, history papers are personal arguments. It requires a lot of thought, research, and synthesis. I really enjoy the process. I’m not going to lie— I was in the library a couple weeks ago looking for some books (actual physical ones with paper and everything), and I had a great time going through the shelves. But that’s not the point.
Heiser was discussing our thesis statements, which is the answer to your research question, essentially. For example, if I’m writing a research paper to answer the question, “What is the most annoying sound in the world?” then my thesis statement would be something like, “The most annoying sound in the world is the sound of scraping metal because it makes my skin crawl.” It’s a lousy example, but you get the point. Today, Heiser gave us an excellent quote.
You started with a question. Finish with an answer.
I was like whoah. Immediately, the sermon-making gears in my head began to spin. I was thinking of all the ways I could, perhaps, apply this quote spiritually. And then, it hit me.
In order for our faith to grow, we must start with a question and finish with an answer.
Let me bust a myth for you really quick: becoming a Christian doesn’t magically deposit spiritual information into your head. That takes… wait for it… studying, reading, and praying. Corny church answers, aren’t they? That doesn’t make them false. Spiritual security comes from two things: experiencing Christ and knowing Christ. The experiencing part is the easier of the two, for when you experience salvation, that’s an example. You can see blessings and miracles all around you. But this whole knowing thing is hard for people to understand. We all have questions. I’ve had a ton, and I still have a ton. No one is expecting you to know it all. The notion that you will magically find the answers by simply being awake, though, is foolish. If you are going to call yourself a Christian, your very existence ought to be focused on knowing Christ more and better, every day, all the time. If you are going to engage in true spiritual growth, you must pray and study God’s word. Simple, isn’t it? Sort of. The only problem is that those two things are going to make you scratch your head frequently.
Problem: you’ve started to have questions about Christ.
Solution: there are always answers.
It’s pretty simple. If you need resources, I know how to help you, and I know plenty of far more qualified people who have some, too. We cannot, as Christians, allow our excuse for lack of growth to be, “Well, I just don’t understand.” With the countless commentaries, articles, books, translations, churches… someone surely does understand. We all have questions: welcome to reality.
But, if you truly want to grow, start with those questions.
Finish with answers.