by Joani Schultz
Have you ever heard of Easter Island?
On this most remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island’s iconic statues raise questions—lots of them. How and why were these volcanic stone carvings, called “moai,” created? Why do these over-sized heads stand expressionless, all gazing inland? How could early inhabitants transport these massive statues to the island’s perimeter?
The island is bathed in questions. Mystery. intrigue.
In that way, Easter Island is like the first Easter…especially after Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggenveen, first spotted the island on Easter Sunday.
Luke described the first Easter like a murder mystery compete with confusion, fear, shock, and wondering.
Luke says the women were puzzled and terrified. Can you imagine looking for a bloodied dead man and finding—nobody (no body!)? Can you sense the horror, shiver-up-your-spine sight of an empty tomb and the shock of an immovable stone, moved?
And then the women were stunned by another question, this one from two dazzling-robed men who suddenly appeared (that’s faint-worthy!) : “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?”
What kind of question is that, they wonder? Then they replay Jesus’ words, words that didn’t make sense the first time they heard them—and words that still didn’t make sense.
Even after Peter raced to the scene to see for himself, he still wondered what happened.
The whole story wreaked of nonsense. Unbelievable. Questionable.
Why would Jesus put his friends through this? Why does God allow us to wonder?
Why so many questions?
Maybe God knows questions draw people into relationship. And because he’s most interested in a loving relationship with us, he’ll gladly let us grapple with questions. To ask. To wonder.
Even simple questions like—”What’s your name? How are you?” or “What’d you do today?” or “What do you want for dinner?” can bring people closer.
Educators strive for that moment students become so intrigued with a subject, they become askers. We wonder about creation, science, chemistry, anthropology, technology, biology, other “ologies.” God created us with inquiring minds. Not only do our questions bring us closer to each other, questions draw us deeper into our world.
Even questions about the moai statues on Easter Island.
How to embrace questions
Encourage faith questions, relationship questions, all questions. One look at a curious—”Why…why…why…?”—toddler exploring the world and it’s clear: questions are wired into our very being.
I applaud Ali, a Sunday school teacher who asked her class to ask God their questions. Kids asked God big questions like:
- Why do bad things happen?
- Will everything be okay?
- God, are you real?
- Is your birthday on Christmas?
…and these questions came from fourth and fifth graders!
The Jesus-Centered Bible features references where Jesus answers life’s essential questions. Like the ones those kids—and we ask. The easy-to-read-and-understand New Living Translation, gives Jesus’ answers to “What’s my purpose?,” What is right and wrong,” “What is truth” and more.
Jesus loves our questions.
The Jesus-Centered Bible includes thought-provoking questions like “After Jesus rose from the dead, some of his closest followers didn’t seem to recognize him right away–why? (Luke 24:13-35).
2. Look for Jesus’ questions.
Simply scan the Gospels and highlight every question Jesus asked. You’ll quickly find Jesus asked a lot of questions. He wants us to grapple, to wonder. His questions make us think. I wonder why he did that?
3. Converse using Jesus-style questions.
Instead of being the “answer person,” be the “question person.” Curiosity in conversations draws people to you. Done in genuine curiosity and authenticity, you’ll enjoy better conversations filled with deeper understanding of the other person. Jesus modeled that kind of relationship.
Doug Pollock authored the best book I’ve read to inspire great faith conversations. It’s called God Space and suggests great “wondering questions.”
4. Ask one more question.
Rick Lawrence, author of The Jesus-Centered Life has mastered this skill. He asks follow-up questions like breathing. He’s honed the art of questions that penetrate hearts. So, when someone answers one question, you can ask one more question. How did you decide to do that? What have you liked most about that? What have you learned through that? What surprised you most?
When you ask questions, ask open-ended, thinking questions. Not factoids or one-word answers you already know.
I wonder: If the Easter Island moai could talk, what would they say? What question might they ask you?
Try it. I challenge you. Ask more questions of Jesus and each other and see what happens! Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.