Thursday, May 22, 2008

Questions, questions, questions,...

“Papa, why Jesus died?” My daughter, with all her 4 year old curiosity and innocence asked me with a serious sounding voice while I was driving her to school one day. Usually such questions arise when she sees a cross on a church building. She knows Jesus died on a cross and for some reason she thinks Jesus died on all the crosses on all the churches! She would say, “Papa, look at that cross, that’s were Jesus died”. Once my wife tried to explain to her [in vain], “Look, that’s not where Jesus died, that’s just another cross like the one where Jesus actually died once”. "Mommy, but... but.. but Jesus died on the cross".

Anyways, when she asked “why Jesus died”, my quick answer was “to save us” (my learned answer). “But WHHHHHYYYYYY?” she blurted out the tougher one in a much louder voice. Now I thought she is really serious and I felt glad about it. As her Dad, I always look for opportunities to tell her about God in general and Jesus in particular (Secretly thinking that I can make her love Jesus in a very early age!). Here, I thought this is the best opportunity to explain to her the reason for Jesus’s death. It’s quite hard for a 32 year old guy to think like 4 year old. In my mind, I tried to simplify my answer the best I can but still wasn’t satisfied. Then I immediately thought it may not still make sense to her, so let me try something different, I said, “though He died, He woke up on the third day!”. While trying to take a breath of relief after giving my ‘smart’ answer, here comes the next question, “But, why did bad people kill Him?”. Ah… I said, “because they didn’t like Him”. “Jesus was good right?”. “YES”, “Then, why bad people kill good people?”. She continued mercilessly. She kept on asking so many questions without waiting for my hard worked answers.

At this point, I realized one thing (a huge thing): My answers are irrelevant to her! She is not so much interested in hearing my theologically formulated, politically-correct answers; rather she is interested only in asking a whole lot of questions. All she wants is my acknowledgment to her questions, not necessarily the right answers. That’s the way she get in touch with a lot of realities in life: by asking questions! A lot of them!

Asking questions without any apology is the sweet, essential characteristic of childhood. We all have asked several questions to our parents, most of them inconvenient and uncomfortable. But that’s how we learned. What if our parents would have ignored such questions? What if they have discouraged us from asking questions? It would have certainly impacted our personality. To be honest, I just don’t have answers to all my daughter’s questions. Not so much that I don’t know the answer, but I don’t know how to explain to her in a way that it is comprehensible to her. But I will certainly still encourage her to ask more and I make sure she is comfortable to ask me any questions. It is a matter of intimacy in a relationship and it also contributes to the development of a creative mind.

As we all grew older, somewhere along the line as we evolved into a more sophisticated, tamed beings, we (tragically) stopped asking questions. We stopped exploring. We learned to suppress our curiosity. We learned to keep quite while still struggling inside. And we called it ‘maturity’.

When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”, He meant something. His kingdom is of the innocent. His kingdom is of the ones who ask questions. He promoted challenging questions. He satisfied the curiosity of Thomas in a fascinating way. He Himself asked tough questions. He answered them as well. He also left some unanswered.

When did Christian life become pursuing answers, instead of pursuing questions? When did we lose our innocence in asking questions? Why are we in a hurry to make everything so predictable and answerable? Isn’t the “Mystery” (Christ in you) supposed to be a mystery, always?

In mystery, there are more questions than answers and it is absolutely alright. Finding the treasures hidden in Christ involves asking the tough, uncomfortable questions. If we are not asking, there are only two reasons for it: 1. we are acting as if we know all the answers. 2. we are fearful.

Religion (the 'unquestionable' authority), never ever promotes asking questions. They are afraid of them. But Jesus is not. He welcomes our questions. He acknowledges it. He loves it! Religion suppresses it. It oppresses the questioners. Because it act as find-all-answers-encyclopedia. (Remember Pharisees of Jesus' time. They were the people who 'knew' everything)

I left the church(religion) wounded emotionally and spiritually. The reason for my leaving was nothing but asking some questions. Now, thankfully Jesus is healing those wounds. Though I physically left church couple of years ago I never left it from my heart until recently. Now, within me, I am done with it. I am not talking about the church Jesus is building, which He said the gates of hell will not prevail against. I am saying, I left the ruined, enterprised, institutionalized, people ruling, buildings of caged ‘animals’. Such buildings give me an awkward, insensitive, motionless feeling and I hate that. There is no room for mystery. There is no unpredictability. There is no wild abandon. Nothing. But bunch of well-domesticated, lifeless, ‘all knowing’ hypocrites.

I want to reclaim childlike faith. That is the desire of my heart. I find it difficult, challenging and often times risky. I am nowhere near! As the thoughts comes into my mind about abandoning everything, all my comforts for pursuing this , it sends a shiver through my body. Career? Money? Others expectations? Secured future? Home?

"and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."


"Jesus, How is this possible?"


Aida said...

Great post, Bino!

"There is no room for mystery. There is no unpredictability. There is no wild abandon."

That's what I love about living in the wild, free from religion. In my normal state, I can easily get into a rut but, since I started living this life of grace, Father has been teaching me about the joy of living in the unexpected.

In my every day life there is a certain amount of repetition. There are certain activities that I do every day like go to work or cook dinner but, even in those activities, I'm learning to look for the unexpected and to relax when unexpected change comes my way.

"I want to reclaim childlike faith. That is the desire of my heart."

That's my desire too. As adults, especially religious adults, we've complicated things so that it takes a professional to sort out the tangles for us. Out here in the wild of freedom, there are no professionals. It's just me and Father and he's removing the layers of religion to reveal the simplicity and wonder of this life of grace. Sometimes, when the layers are pulled off, it's painful but it's so freeing that I want to participate more and more in what he's doing until I'm totally free of all religion.


Bino Manjasseril said...

Thanks Aida! It's a long process of peeling the religion off and to get the raw flesh revealed. I agree it's sometime painful. But it's worth the pain and discomfort! Abandoning ourself (with no strings attached) to the perfect will of Father is in fact scary. But that is the only way we can be in His perfect, free will. In such life of freedom, tough questions are never scary. Uncomfortable questions are never uncomfortable. There is room for creativity, mistakes, learning, unanswered questions, mystery, failure, wonder and awe!
I want that life!