The Holy Practice of Questioning Everything
READ TIME: 7 MINUTES
My entire Christian life, I’ve been taught that God is XYZ; to do this and God will be pleased; to do that and His wrath will cut through you faster than a hot knife in butter.
One of those “never to-do’s” was questioning what God said is right and wrong. Except the “right and wrong” were other people’s opinions. Never have I been taught: “Ask God, and be obedient to what He says.”
Friend, I am in no way criticizing a particular church group. I’m only challenging us all to not be lazy believers. My intention for this post is to challenge us to think about WHY we believe what we believe, and to answer those questions by talking & listening to God.
The way I actually met God, on my own road of desperation and not in traditional religion, taught me to question everything. In that valley, I questioned why I wanted to self-harm. I questioned whether the future was truly hopeless or if it was just a temporary feeling. I questioned whether God really loved me and if He really was good.
And many times over, I’ve questioned those things again, only to be assured by revelation from the Holy Spirit that God does love me and He is good. And in fact, He’s present even in my lows.
What I love about personally knowing God is that He opens up the possibility to question everything, himself included.
Some people use the black-and-white Bible to turn off their brains, allowing other interpreters to do their thinking for them, and although I come from that religious background, I can’t help but believe God has a better purpose for me and you.
The problems with allowing doctrine & dogma to tell you what to believe are:
God has higher, personal revelation for each believer. That’s why the Holy Spirit was/is a gift to all believers, not just the elite few.
They may be operating on a revelation that was pertinent for their time, but not pertinent today.
Or their beliefs may be a result of their own time & place’s societal standards and cultural environment rather than a real, personal relationship with the Lord.
What does a dogma-created believer look like?
Christians who used to be proponents for slavery in America or still, in effect, personally practice segregation.
A Christian who believes women shouldn’t teach men.
A Christian who believes younger people shouldn’t teach older people.
Church-Goer or Believer?
A CHURCH-GOER is someone who sits in the pew on Sunday, recites whatever he/she memorized as a kid, and goes home without thinking of God again until next Sunday.
A BELIEVER OF GOD should be someone who questions all of it. Who seriously weighs the Sunday message, but even more so weighs the work of God in his/her daily life. Who questions if what he/she believes is dogma or truth; from the mouths of well-versed, educated people or from the Spirit of God.
I hope you weigh my blog posts accordingly. I never want to be someone whose teaching you swallow without considering what part of it, if any, God is trying to communicate to you.
Logic is a tool
I used to believe that our minds were evil. That I just needed to blindly accept whatever message was given to us, whatever interpretation of the Scripture, from whomever was in the pulpit. But that doesn’t mean I escape the “evil” of our minds, but rather that I dismiss my own mind raising red flags and accept Scripture with someone else’s personal biases and cultural background.
But today I think God gave us logic to use as a tool in which to see Him and receive real truth.
If an interpretation of Scripture makes no sense, or we gloss over “details” that don’t add up, we need to dig into WHY our logic disagrees with it.
It’s a messy thing, digging up accepted beliefs, but we have the greatest helper of all time: God’s Spirit.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
-Jesus, John 16
The Spirit helps us to know higher truth that at earlier times, we may have been unable to receive. Earlier times in this Scripture meant before Jesus’ death, but I believe as we (a body of believers with ancient origins) continue to evolve our understanding of God, there’s always higher truth that we can learn. And the Spirit leads us there as we’re open to His voice.
I’m DEFINITELY not saying logic is always right, but it’s worth considering why parts of our logic disagree with some handed-down religious assertions. Sometimes you weigh it all to find that it’s your sinful, rebellious side warring against God’s truth. Sometimes you weigh it all to find that God’s bringing you to a higher revelation that can transform your mind, your family, and the world around you.
In my life, knowing God and being led to higher truth has caused me to question…
Why I think a corporate job is the best way to success.
Why I define success like everybody else.
Why I believe I need to workout 5x/week.
What do I believe is the purpose of marriage.
What do I believe is the purpose of life.
Why I vote the way I do.
Why I spend my money where I do.
Why do I think a mortgage and car note are good financial decisions.
I question everything. I’m by no means open-minded about it all, though I wish I was!! I’m aware I have blind spots where my perfunctory practices take over, but I try to locate them, invite God’s light to shine in where cobwebs have grown in my mind, and consider alternatives.
It’s far too easy and common to just go with the flow of what everyone else is doing and believing.
But God calls us each out of dogma into personally knowing Him.
That phrase “personal relationship with God” has been so overused — especially by people who don’t seem to have one — that it’s lost all value.
So let’s use a real relationship you have.
If you quote your mom, repeating words she said at your discretion, does that mean you personally know her? Couldn’t someone look at her Facebook and do the same thing??
If you know her history and talk about things she did growing up, does that mean you personally know her? Coudln’t her childhood friends do that as well??
You personally know your mom because of all the time you’ve spent with her. You know what she cares about, likes & dislikes, when she wants to retire, etc. But if you only knew her based on some readings about her and you didn’t ever talk to her, but just asked other people about her… you wouldn’t really know her, would you?
And yet, that’s unfortunately the life of many believers in today’s American Christianity.
more people use the Bible as a quote book or history lesson than as a record of people’s personal interactions with god.
Which means there are a lot of Christians who only know God based on other people’s experiences.
What’s a Personal Relationship?
Personally knowing someone means you have a deep, abiding relationship with them. I have that with my husband and a few friends. But most people are in and out of my life, and I just know some attributes of them. I couldn’t tell you what are their deepest struggles and highest victories. I couldn’t tell you what they think about various ideas.
With God, it’s even greater than friendship. We can very personally know God, because His Spirit dwells within us. We can feel the moving of the Spirit when He says, “Spend time just sitting in My Presence.” Or “Let me show you what this Bible passage REALLY means.” Or “See that girl over there — go talk to her.”
We don’t have to use the black-and-white Bible as a rulebook. We can know the God who inspired it on a personal level.
Why Question Everything
Questioning everything is a holy practice because God gave us minds to use.
If He wanted robots to say “I love God. I love Jesus. The end”, He wouldn’t have given us minds.
He gave us minds so we’d be free to make our own decisions about what we really believe about Him and all the implications of those beliefs in our daily lives.
That’s why it’s holy and necessary for each of us to weigh what we see, know, and believe, and to move toward higher truth, day by day, year after year. If all of our beliefs are the same as last year’s, we’ve missed the point of our short time on earth.
What handed-down beliefs can you begin to dig into today?
Try sitting in the presence of God, no distractions, and just let His Spirit lead your mind to higher truth. When you come to a question, don’t give in to the temptation to google the answer or fall back on what you’ve always believed. Ask God to show you fresh revelation of who He is and how He operates.