Big Questions

Last Sunday, in worship, I was talking with the children about Baptism. I took them to the Baptismal Font and let them put their hands in the water. I told them we were in the Season of Lent, a time when we reflect on Baptism and what it means to, and for us. When I described how I had baptized one of them recently, how I had water from the font on her head, one of the children asked, “Why did you do that!?”Two hours later I finished my theological explanation of baptism to them.  Just kidding. Sometimes the questions children ask amaze me. Like the time I visited a family and one of the children had a very serious question to ask me. I sat down with her and said, “Tell me what it is you are wondering?”  She responded, “Why are sharks so mean?” Two hours later I finished my theological explanation of baptism to her.  Just kidding. What got me to thinking about this was a note about a friend and his wife who were working with 2nd Grade children in Sedona, AZ. This couple, people of deep faith and wonderful creativity teach art and writing. They were asking the class what questions they would like to discuss as they began their time with them. One asked, “How do I digest my food?” Another asked, "How do broken bones heal?"  Then one innocent looking child asked, "How do I live my life?"  Wow. “How do I live my life?” That’s a big question. Right up there with other big questions. “What is my purpose in life?” What happens when I die?” “Why is there suffering in the world?” Religion has always wrestled with these questions. And even supplies answers. But religion is not based in certainty, despite the fact many people of faith act as if they have all the answers, that they are certain about things.For them there is no room for doubt.  I doubt sometimes. I question. I wrestle. And you know what? If you look through scripture you’ll find I’m not alone. When I read the scripture stories of people who doubted I realize they are actually stories of great faith. For that is what faith is in the end. Who really knows the answer to the big questions? No, I’m wary of those who have all the answers.  All the answers won’t help when you’re overwhelmed by affliction, suffering, betrayal, misfortune. The answers only work when everything is going well. In fact, when things are going well I hear people say they’re blessed. What they’re really saying is they are healthy, wealthy and successful. You know. Blessed. Which all too often leads to a feeling of entitlement and even superiority over those who are not so blessed. The word never used by these blessed folks is lucky. They’re not lucky. They’re blessed! Because they do everything right. And, therefore, God rewards them.  But a true blessing is not having more stuff. True blessing is having more God. I know people who are truly blessed. Not because they tell me they are, but because they are a blessing to all they meet, a God centered life of shalom. In the end, the answers to the big questions of life’s meanings, of what happens when we die, of why there is suffering in the world will only be answered in life beyond life. In the meantime there is one question we can answer now. Today. This Lenten season. It’s a simple question really. Even a 2nd Grader can ask it. For Christians the question is "How do I follow the Jesus path?" "How do I think and speak and act with compassion, gratitude, mercy, passion and peace?” How do I live my life?