If there’s one thing that’s true of all of us – embedded deep in our hearts from creation – it’s that we ask questions.
We ask because we’re not self-sufficient; we’re dependent creatures. We need to wonder, wrestle, and learn – it’s actually a good thing.
Relational inquisitiveness propels exploration, and deepens knowing. Gracious questions can be an expression of love, a way of not being preoccupied with self (1 Cor. 13:5).
Yet sometimes our questions do reveal our unbelief:
“Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1)
But then God himself comes asking us a question (though he already knows the answer!): “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9)
It’s a way of helping us face ourselves; we’re meant to hear and reflect: “Where am I indeed?” And, “Will I be honest about my hiding, and my guilt and shame?”
Now, since that great fracturing of our relationship with God, we ask even more questions, expressing our deepest fears, hopes, and longings:
“Am I loved? Will I be Accepted?”
“Can I really be forgiven? If so, will I always feel it?””
Is there healing for my shame?”
“What am I looking to (trusting in) to find meaning in my life right now?”
Multitudes of self-help gurus offer answers to these questions – yet their answers send us inward, and leave us wanting. After all, a curved-in self is part of the problem.
But what if we linked our questions to God’s unfolding story?
The gospel – this “divinely orchestrated narrative” of good news (what “gospel” means) actually drives us outward, away from our own schemes, to the true King.
In other words, as Tim Keller notes, the gospel is news, not advice.
And the good news is, his heart is not set on crushing us (2 Pet. 3:9). He asks us to simply admit what we are, and come open-handed.
When we do, we see that this King is unlike all others, for he stoops from his throne to personally come and rescue us. The devastating effects of our cosmic treason – guilt and shame – are answered with unimaginable grace.
Yet what makes the gospel especially good news is that it’s not only our past and future hope, it’s our present hope in the face of heart struggles and sufferings as well.
We may have come to trust Christ as our Savior, yet our deepest questions about being loved, accepted, and finding true meaning still persist.
Thankfully, they find their ultimate answers not in ourselves, but in the finished work of Christ – including what he is now doing: interceding for us, and “making all things new” (Isa. 43:19).
Faith may wax and wane, but the cross and resurrection changed everything; now, wherever the King is, there you will find the kingdom.
So how do we understand this kingdom?
Unlike many conceptions, the kingdom of God isn’t an ethereal, pie-in-the-sky, off-in-the clouds reality. Rather, it’s an unfolding story now taking shape; a King ushering in his new society.
As theologian Nicholas Perrin says, it is a “sphere of reality conspiring with a community of human image-bearers in the task of restoring creation to the worship of the one true Creator God.”
The resurrection of Jesus has opened that door.
NT Wright fleshes this out for us when he writes:
“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether…They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
When it comes to your website, you may have heard the popular saying “content is king.” If you listen to marketing experts, they’ll tell you that you need to use keywords (that come up in searches), well-written content, and good visuals.
These things are helpful, and shouldn’t be neglected.
Yet, we also do justice to God’s work and his unfolding kingdom when our content helps questioners grapple with the true King and his kingdom. As we’ve noted in past posts, your site should anticipate the things they will ask about, with a posture of warm and loving welcome.
We facilitate this welcome by acknowledging that every person has a story. Because we were made for this King, the questions that arise in our stories can be answered in the most healing of ways:
“Am I loved?” The gospel answers, Yes, you are loved more than you can imagine, for the king has suffered and shed his blood to rescue you (dying the death you deserve) and welcome you into his family.
“Am I accepted?” The Gospel says you’re accepted – even on your worst day.
“Am I forgiven?” Yes, through faith in Jesus you are completely forgiven. Jesus has sealed the adoption papers in his blood. He will bring the good work he has begun in you to completion.
“Is there healing for my shame?” Yes, but like our other questions and because of our sin, this is easy to forget. We need continual reminders that through his cross, he has separated our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west, ” and has taken our shame upon himself. Though we want to take it back sometimes (we insist on self-salvation projects), he says “it is finished.”
“What gives me meaning in my life right now?” Because we’re still prone to wander, the question of where we look for meaning is always relevant. Even as believers, our heart’s worship can deviate to “self-made, artificial saviors” – whether relationships, jobs, success, feeling good and always entertained, etc. The Gospel reminds us that Jesus is better than all.
These kinds of questions must be unpacked carefully and continually – on your site, in sermons, conferences, Sunday School lessons, etc., – and especially in God’s new community, the welcoming fellowship of believers.
It’s easy when it comes to questions of doctrine to simply proof-text answers without fleshing them out. Your website can offer more; inquirers need to hear down-to-earth stories from those in your church family to help them.
In our next post, we’ll add to the questions above to help your site anticipate the questions that inquirers are asking.