Tom Skinner, the gifted black evangelist, penned a book with a title that won’t let me go: If Christ Is the Answer, What Are the Questions?
I like that . . . not only because it’s creative, but because it strikes a chord in my soul that harmonizes well with the voices of many searchers in society.
Far too many sheep in the fold have turned a deaf ear to the questions of goats outside the gate. We are busily engaged in a mutual-admiration campaign, complimenting one another’s wool . . . or gloating over our position in the pen. The fence that separates us from the goats is all too often more like a sound-resistant one-way glass. This “glass fence” produces two serious and sad results:
1. It absorbs and muffles the outside sounds so that what we hear are not the actual questions goats are asking.
2. It reflects back to the goats not only their own hopeless appearance but a distinct silence that says, in effect, “Sorry, we have no answer,” or “We’ll just ignore that, since you’re not teachable and only want to argue.”
Oh sure, there are exceptions . . . but you’ve got to agree with me that most sheep have stopped considering the questions and have started analyzing the answers.
Now, I’m not saying we never make a stab at it. I am saying, however, that our stabs are usually quick thrusts of doctrinal daggers in technical verbiage familiar mainly to sheep, not careful throws of javelins in the jargon of the goats that hit the target with a telling effect. Sheep are satisfied, it seems, to bleat out answers to questions nobody’s asking . . . or beat goats about the head and shoulders with dull biblical clubs backed up by a defensive, threatened attitude. My fellow sheep—that simply will not lead to a harvest of grateful goats. Bleeding, assaulted goats don’t submit; they fight or flee.
Christianity is completely credible. Objective, honest, historically documented evidence in favor of the basics of our faith is massive in fact and impressive in volume. But there is many a goat who is hung up on some question(s) that tethers him outside the fold. His search is often genuine, his thinking is usually logical . . . and he is looking for evidence that makes sense, facts that hold up under intelligent investigation.
These questions are like ropes tossed over the fence. They are not necessarily designed to create an argument or slam our faith to the mat. They are often intellectual inquiries—occasionally theoretical—that force us to think (which many sheep stopped doing when they walked through the gate). If we view these ropes as lifelines, we’ll grab hold and not let go. If we consider them as foolish arguments or an unimportant waste of time, we may miss choice, irreplaceable opportunities.
The apostle Peter put it this way:
always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)
He precedes this command with a reminder that we should feel neither troubled nor intimidated. The slightest noise gives woolies the willies. No need! Especially if we are “ready to make a defense.”
Sheep on the front lines today are those who have come to know and love the Answer . . . but are able to handle the questions with wisdom and gentleness. This means that we must stay inquisitive and alert.
Maybe the reason we’ve stopped answering questions is because we’ve stopped asking them.
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.