“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”
“Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.”
1 Peter 3:13-17
As one continues to study the Gospels, one quickly realizes how many questions are directed to or about Jesus. Jesus’ identity is a major motif in the Gospels. In Mark’s Gospel we arrive at a crucial turning point when Jesus becomes the questioner: who do people say that I am…but who do y’all say that I am?
How we answer that question is hugely important; however, I’d like to focus on something else, something so basic, yet so very easy to skim over.
Notice that Jesus was living a questionable life. Let me repeat that. Jesus lived a questionable life. His life elicited questions. He lived in such a way that people found it worth questioning.
Was he the only one in his movement that folks directed questions about? Of course not. The early church lived questionable lives, too.
That is how Christianity spread. These Christians lived in such a way that it raised eyebrows, piqued curiosity, and drew interest. Like a centripetal force, people were drawn in by this Way and asked questions, to which these funny Christians declared the Lordship of the crucified and resurrected King.
This begs the question: are we living questionable lives, lives worthy of questioning? Or, has our culture become so accustomed to who we are, how we react, where we live, that there isn’t anything different about us? Have we accommodated to the culture so much that we reflect it more than the kingdom of God?
This idea might pump folks up. Let’s live radical, counter-cultural lives! But that line of thinking can shoot off into several different directions including separation from our culture or domination over our culture.
Furthermore, we must also realize that there’s a flipside to this questionable living. Questionable living can be both a centripetal and centrifugal force. Many were excited about this Great Healer, but when he began talking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, almost everyone ditched him. Not many of his followers followed him to his crucifixion. Many will take offense at the Light. Some will gravitate towards it; others will be dispelled by it. Light can both illuminate (reveal) and blind (conceal). When confronted with the life of Christ, some will be compelled and others dispelled. The disposition of one’s heart indicates whether you’ll draw near or withdraw.
At least one other question is raised when speaking of questionable living: are we questioning our lives? Are we questioning the lives of our churches? Are we asking questions of those who are not in our pews? Or are we complacently moving with the flow? Are we willing to listen? Or do we listen so that we may get our point across?
At the heart of being a disciple is being a learner. Questions lead to answers and sometimes more (unanswered) questions. If we’ve lost the drive to ask questions and to be questioned, then it may be an indicator of where our hearts are.
Are people asking us who we are and why we do the things that we do? Are we curious or piquing curiosity? If not, we may be either living a laissez-faire life or a life of an autocrat, trying to usurp the authority of Christ or disregard it all together.
Living a questionable life doesn’t mean doing things just for the purpose of piquing curiosity (that’s selfishness) or questioning things just for the sake of it (that’s annoying). Rather, it’s living a life of Cross-shaped purpose.