Christians must not be afraid of the whys which we encounter, whether it is from nonbelievers challenging our faith or our own young people doubting theirs.
Why is inevitable. But, why is also valuable.
Two ways in which asking why is valuable to Christians come to mind.
Value #1: Nonessentials Are Tested
We do not like to hear the word “nonessential,” especially when it comes to our faith and practice. We like for everything to be cut and dry, yes or no. But, we must face the fact that there are things we believe and do—good things, important things, healthy things—that do not put us or anyone else in right standing before God. They may help us in our salvation, but they do not save.
These things are good and important and healthy, but not essential.
I think our fear is that when we are honest enough to call something nonessential that it will immediately disappear, and we will have lost something good, important, and healthy. That would not be good.
But, here’s the thing.
Holding on to something that could never save us as though it could is much worse.
I would not dare try to suggest examples. But, that is precisely the point. If we are not willing to ask ourselves why we do or don’t believe a particular belief, or practice a particular practice, and if we furthermore judge anyone who does ask, not only are we disobeying 1 Peter 3:15, we are no better than the Pharisees.
Just think, was it the Pharisees’ attempt to be holy that made them the hypocrites? I would say not. They were clinging to their efforts to make themselves holy, rather than trusting God to do so. So, when Christ came to fulfill the law that they so desperately tried to fulfill themselves, they ironically rejected the only hope they had to be made holy!
We are prone to make the same mistake. If we value our standards of living more than the holiness that they are supposed to foster, we can consider ourselves Pharisees. However, if we honestly ask and Biblically answer why, then we will realize that there are certain things that are good but not perfect, healthy but not ultimate, important but not essential. And, we will be all the better for it.
Value #2: Essentials Are Established
When we start asking why we believe what we believe and do what we do, we will not only put nonessential things in their place, but we will also allow essential things to rise to their place.
Why allows us to mine the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
We see this spirit exemplified in the Berean Jews that the Apostle Paul found so eager to receive the Word of God. Luke tells us that while the Bereans received Paul’s teachings, they did not do so naively. They checked word Paul brought to them with the Old Testament. Why did Paul teach what he taught? Why should we go along with it? Why should we believe anything outside of the Law and the Prophets?
It was the careful consideration that led to a brilliant result: “many of them believed.”
The Jews of Thessolonica were not so willing. They had the same Testament from God. They had the same word from Paul. But, they had a very different attitude, one that refused to entertain the question why. The result: rejecting God’s word and causing more harm than good.
When we ask why we walk away from the question being more assured of God’s truth.
So why would we ever be afraid of why?
Excuse #1: We are unprepared to answer.
The first reason could be that we are unprepared to answer. We are often unprepared to answer when people ask because we have never asked ourselves. However, Peter does not command us to receive questions and then generate an answer. We are to be ready with the answer, apparently before the question is asked.
This obviously means that there is no room for intellectual lethargy in the Christian life. We are people of faith, but that faith must not be blind. If we are to be ready to answer why we must ask ourselves before anyone else does.
If we are going to be ready, we must get ready.
Excuse #2: We are unprepared to change.
The second reason could be that we are unprepared to change. Perhaps, we are worried that if we ask why, our comfort zone will be disturbed. Maybe it is a thought that we have grown comfortable in thinking, a standard that we have grown comfortable in keeping, or an activity we have grown comfortable in doing. What happens when we find out they may not be as important as we would like them to be?
Those verses we thought we had such a tight grasp on and used to prove everything that we do, what happens when they do not mean exactly what we would like them to mean? What happens when that tradition for which we have fought for so long is not as noble of a cause as we previously thought?
We must remember that our comfort zone is not the source of truth. God’s Word is.
When we ask why, we may have to lay aside the comfort of traditions, or assumptions, or even some genuinely bad ideas. We may have to lay aside some practical hindrances, but they were, after all, hindrances.
We must remember, “All truth is God’s truth.” Therefore, any why, when it is responsibly addressed and Biblically answered, will lead us closer to God. That will never be a bad thing.
Why is a good question. It is a healthy question. And, it is nothing to fear.
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