Click over to your favorite blog, and pick out the 4th and 14th words (that aren’t “the” or “an”). Drop them into this phrase:
“_____ is the new _____.”
Well, my two words for this post are: often and questions. So my phrase is: Often is the new Questions. I’m not sure I can make much sense out of this! I can make sense of the two words used in conjunction, in a proper context however. When it comes to writing, as with life, context is the key. So many misunderstandings and misapplications are made simply because people do not know the context.
There is a teaching in seminary in regards to hermeneutics: Text without context is pretext. In other words, if we fail to keep scripture (whether it be a single verse or a pericope) in context we are doomed to misapply that verse or verses. This is where all false teachings and heresies and unorthodox views come from . . . a lack of context.
So, how can I appropriate “often is the new questions” into any sort of worthwhile and meaningful context?
I’m sure there are several possibilities, but here is what comes to my mind. Focusing on the two key terms (often, questions) gives me an inroad into one of my life philosophies. This particular life philosophy is the following: Ask questions often! I fear this is one skill, if I can call it that, which many people stop practicing once they advance past childhood.
We all know how children are prone to ask questions; and then, to continue asking them, much to the dismay of the adult! Just yesterday, one of my daughters was asking me why something did whatever it was it did. I answered it simply and with a straightforward manner. Of course, this prompted a second why? question, which was soon followed by a third and a fourth . . . ad nauseam.
But, we adults could learn a thing or two from the children in our midst. After all, the bible says, out of the mouth of babes!
One thing that I emphasize to any class I teach is to ask questions. If you really want to learn. If you really want to gain more knowledge and understanding. If you really want to think for yourself and come up with your own ideas and opinions. If you really want to ascend to wisdom . . . then ask questions.
Ask questions and ask them often. Questioning is not the same as doubting. When I teach a Bible study class or something similar to it, I tell the class to ask questions of the text. By so doing, they will be engaging in the conversation. They will be delving deeper in their understanding of the text.
It is like something I heard recently that was applied to a corporation: the workers know what and how, but the boss should know why.
Asking questions gets us to the why. If a person really wants to grow in their understanding of something: ask why. Get behind the nuts and bolts, so to speak, and deduce why the thing does this or that. Determine its purpose. Define its goal. Once you do this, you will have a deeper understanding of the subject.
Of course, all of this takes time and work. It is far easier just to read a passage from the Bible, then close said Bible and get up and tend to the affairs of the day. Don’t misunderstand me. Reading the Bible, even the shortest of verses, is better than not reading it at all. But, I think God expects more from us than that.
Asking questions of the text, asking questions of the Holy Spirit (who inspired it) helps me to see things I may not otherwise. Why did Paul say it that way? Why did James compare those two things together? Why did Jesus do it that way? What is the significance of this phrase? What does this word mean? All of these aid us in our study of scripture.
Of course, it can be applied to anything really. If you can understand the why of something, usually the what and how and when will fall into place.
To be a learner, to be a good, continuing student . . . here is my advice: Ask questions often!