Here’s A Question For You
When we think about Jesus’s ministry on earth, we tend to think of Him as a man with all of our answers. This is true, He does have all the answers we will ever need, but answering questions was actually opposite of how He focused His ministry to people. The truth is, when Jesus wasn’t performing miracles or healing people, His dialogue mainly looked like Him asking people pointed questions. In fact, there are over 300 instances in the New Testament when Jesus asked people questions, in turn He only answered 3 of the 183 questions people asked Him. Based on this alone, it would be more accurate to say He was a question man as opposed to an answer man. That's not even including the hundreds of times in the Old Testament God (also Jesus) asks humanity questions to minister to and encounter His people. From the first question God ever asked humanity in Genesis 3:8, to the last question God asks through His angelic Hosts in Revelation 5:3, our God’s primary and favorite way to build His Kingdom in the hearts of His people was asking them questions.
It’s important to note, at this point, that God is not asking questions because He is lacking in knowledge or understanding. No, it's quite the opposite, God asks us questions to plant His knowledge within us. God has never been interested in controlling people. He is so gracious, He won’t force you to see the truth. At the end of the day, you get to decide what to believe as truth. He is wildly in love with you. He also pursues you as a Warrior King who is willing to confront and war against our deceptions. Which is precisely what God is doing when He asks humanity questions. He is digging away at any false reality we have built into our hearts. We, the Church, call it strongholds. The enemy does the exact opposite, instead of asking questions to reveal the truth, he slings accusations against us until we believe lies about ourselves and the world around us. The world has adopted this strategy well. Watch a political debate on national television. The candidates will fight tooth and nail to avoid answering questions and will hold nothing back in heaping accusations on their opponent. Father God doesn't engage with us like that, he is never intimidated by our brokenness or the lies we hang on to. He simply asks questions and allows us to wrestle with the truth on our own terms. He always offers Himself in exchange for our lies. He always consumes us with His love. He asks questions to lead us to answers. Answers that will position us to receive His life through the truth.
This is why First Church is a Life Group based church. We want to minister like Jesus did. We want to preach and study the Word. We want to lay hands on the sick and see them recover. We want to cast out demons. We want to worship God in spirit and in truth. And of course, we want to make space for God to ask us questions that reveal Him in greater depth among us. We want our community to have ample space and opportunity for God to reveal His Glory among people, just as He did in the stories of His Scripture. Asking questions that reveal His truth and deconstruct our lies.
Is it hard to get vulnerable before God and one another? You better believe it is. As a side note, for eight years of my Christian walk I tried to do everything I could think of to derail my family from going to a life group and getting vulnerable with my peers. From starting fights with my wife on the way there, in hopes we would give up and go home, working late and having every excuse possible for busy schedules, to simply giving the fakest hyper religious answers possible to avoid being exposed during the life group. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit's gentle guidance, His pursuit of my heart and my wife's desire for real authentic friendships. It kept me showing up to life group week after week. I can honestly say that my commitment to life group, over the years, has played one of the biggest roles in developing me as a husband, father and minister, much more than my attendance to larger church services have. Do I mean to say that the larger church gathering is not necessary? Of course not, but the true authentic Church of Jesus is built upon the real and vulnerable power of heaven revealing relationships that have been built in the presence of God, in a small group community. This is why you will frequently hear me say, “We are not a church that does Life Group ministry, we are Life Groups that gather for church. The First Church understood this and the Apostle Paul confirms this format of Church in Acts 20:20.
As I write this, I can already hear the same objections that have always been presented when I make the case for life group participation. What about Bible studies, why don’t we have the same emphasis on reading and knowing the Word, as we do for life groups? The answer is simple, why in the world do you think we are not studying our Bibles in Life Groups? The only way you can ask a God-inspired question is by knowing His Word, which confirms the God-inspired question. If your life group is not studying the Bible and asking a question from the Bible, become an advocate for your group to do so. We encourage all groups to study the Word, worship and pray regularly in their groups, at the leaders discretion. We only require it not to end without a question that everyone answers. Again, because we want to minister as Jesus did. He taught and engaged people with questions.
Another question I hear people ask is, “Isn't it a little controlling to require all life groups to ask questions?” My question to those who would ask this is, “Isn't it a little controlling to ask a church to sanction a ministry that operates outside of the guidelines set by Scripture?” I'm sorry if that felt harsh, but it’s true. To accuse a community of being controlling because they won't acquiesce to your demands is delusional. The question that Holy Spirit is asking during life groups is what makes our life groups unique and eliminates the ability for people to show up and hide in community. Hiding in community is a technique all Church folk develop over time. I’m smiling as I write this (I'm not angry, I promise). So, again... No, It’s not controlling to minister as Jesus did. It is controlling to expect God’s body to build upon your preferences.
So, let me get back to the title of this blog, Here’s A Question For You? Are you actively participating in a life group? Are you letting God grow you, through a real and powerfully vulnerable community? Are you allowing Him to ask you tough questions that conflict with any deception you may have believed? There is more freedom available to you in Christ, than you have experienced before. He is graciously asking if you're ready for more.