It’s been a quest. I think that’s how I would describe my life: a quest. I’ve wanted to know answers. I’ve never asked my mom or dad, but I am guessing I was one of those kids who asked why to just about everything. I doubt most friends would frame my life in that way today, because somewhere along the way most of my why’s stopped getting voiced. They just went on inside my head.
Many today have some church experience. Maybe they grew up going to church on Christmas and Easter. Maybe a bit more. Maybe all the time. I was one of the latter. My family was a church-going family, and I didn’t have a problem with that. I liked the people at church, and had lots of friends there. Often we did fun things in “children’s church,” and I could earn a little star by name for memorizing something or other. When I got into junior high I even thought some of the girls were cute. But like a lot of kids, somewhere along the line, I figured out the party line. I don’t say that to put the church down, because just about every organization, whether it’s a church, a school, or a business, has a party line. There are certain answers you are supposed to give to questions, and there are certain things you shouldn’t ask about.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something not so good about that. About not feeling overly free to ask the questions you have. And I think this is especially true when it comes to some of the important questions of life. I say this because there are some really good questions that need to get asked, like: How do we know God really exists? Is the Bible historical or is it made up stories like Aesop’s fables? What’s this about Jesus doing miracles and rising from the dead? What about science, doesn’t it contradict the Bible? And how can one explain evil and suffering in the world if God is all-powerful and all-loving? Now, if you are solidly on the Christian side, you might have all those questions settled, or perhaps they just don’t matter to you anymore. But, I’ve met with a lot of people, Christian or not, who have never gotten good answers to these questions. And as a result, they are stuck.
That’s why my life has been a quest. I’ve needed to answer these questions for myself. Being told you just need to have more faith isn’t going to satisfy. And it shouldn’t satisfy us. Jesus didn’t just tell people to have faith. He gave them evidence on which to make a rational decision as to who he was. Do you remember John the Baptist—the one who boldly and publicly declared Jesus was the Messiah? Do you remember that later in his life he began to doubt? He wondered whether he had gotten it right. That’s right, John the Baptist (whom Jesus said was the greatest man ever born of a woman) had doubts. In fact, his doubts festered enough that he sent a message to Jesus to ask whether he really was the Messiah. And how did Jesus respond? He didn’t say, “Have more faith.” He said, “The blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear.” In other words, he said, “Go, look at the evidence, John.”
And I think that is what God has been saying to me over the years. He’s been saying, “Go, look at the evidence, John.” And then beyond that, I’ve sensed him saying, “And help other people look at it too.” I spend most of my days now helping people with their questions about life, God, and the Bible. And people have really good questions. And the best thing I’ve discovered is that God isn’t afraid of them. And if He is not afraid of them, then I don’t need to be afraid of them. I don’t need to be afraid of asking them and I don’t need to be afraid of being asked them. Because more often than not, there are really good answers. Answers that make sense. Answers that help get people unstuck on their very own quest.
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.