Points to Ponder/Blue Card Questions
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
As long as I have been a pastor, I have had a box in the back of the church. With it is a stack of blue 3 x 5 cards on which people can write their questions and deposit them in the box. I realize I’m opening myself up to some real challenges, but it’s good for keeping me on my toes, especially when the children ask their questions. Here are a few recent one’s along with my attempt at an answer.
Q. Does God do stuff for fun or is He always working? Does God sleep?
A. Psalm 121:4 tells us that God will neither “slumber nor sleep.” The purpose of sleep is for our bodies and minds to have “downtime” during which our energy is restored, and our bodies are renewed and strengthened for the next day’s activities. God is Spirit. He never gets tired, wears out, or loses strength.
What God does for “fun” is really the essence of who He is; God is love (I John 4:8). He loves us and His joy is fully expressed in the relationships He has with those who love Him (“...that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”) John 15:11b
To me the whole creation shows that God has fun. Look at all the colors in everything. Think of how different people are in personality and appearance. Sometimes you really can have fun experiencing that. God made us that way. It probably wasn’t “necessary” to make creation - and people - so colorful, but God did it anyway. And maybe it was just for the fun of it.
Q. Why didn’t they believe Jesus after He did all those miracles (like turning water into wine and raising Lazarus from the dead)? Why was He still crucified even though His disciples believed Him?
A. On the first question, if the “they” are the religious leaders and “Bible experts” of the day, Jesus says why they did not believe in John 8:42-47. He told them that (though they were Jews, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) they were not children of God, but children of the devil. “You are of your father the devil.” (v. 44)
There are many reasons for why people in general choose to not believe in Jesus. Even after His resurrection from the dead, many people would not consider the truth, which was plainly before them. The Bible speaks of our having a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and a spiritual blindness of darkened understanding (Romans 1:21 and Ephesians 4:17-19).
Belief is a choice and many people choose to believe in their own wisdom rather than in the Lord.
“There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:14)
“The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” (Proverbs 14:14)
If you read the second and the last chapters of Matthew, you see an interesting point to consider. In Matthew 2, the wise men came to King Herod, seeking the newborn King. Herod calls the scribes. (v. 4) They look it up and determine He’ll be born in Bethlehem. The wise men went on to see the King (Jesus) and the scribes went back to bed.
In Matthew 28, the soldiers guarding the tomb witnessed the resurrection, reported it to the priests, and the priests (rather than check it out) paid them to keep it a secret.
In Jesus’ day, the Messiah was supposed to come as a conquering warrior to free Israel from her enemies. Jesus did not fit those expectations, but He did fulfill scripture. People however tend to give more authority to their own expectations of God rather than what scripture says. Unbelievers in general (having been one myself) are guided by their own thinking, preferring to be in charge of the own lives. To accept Jesus Christ on His terms involves humility, dying to oneself (Mark 8:34-38, Romans 6), and taking responsibility - meaning, living life His way rather than our own way.
On the second question, His disciples had no power or influence to stop the crucifixion. The chief priests and elders used their authority to put Him on trial, convict Him on false charges, and then compelled the Romans to execute Him. But in the end, Jesus gave His life.
Most of the questions I receive are from pre-teens and some of our youth.
Imagine in your own church setting how many children and youth are wondering about God. Are you providing an inviting opportunity for them to ask their questions? Are you training yourself to be able to answer them? You learn so much more when you are teaching others, especially the children God has placed in your care.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at The First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.