RITE OF PASSAGE: Dumb questions
You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it: “There is no such thing as a dumb question.” Those who say this have never had children. Anyone who has children knows that dumb questions abound. How many times have I heard my two sons ask, “Are we there, yet?” I was always tempted to answer, “No, I am just driving around in circles till you quit asking.”
My youngest son once asked Cathy and me, “When are you going to get a divorce?” He had come to the conclusion that all of his classmates who were a product of divorce had it far better than he did. They had two birthday parties and two Christmases. If the parents remarried, the number of grandparents doubled. Of course, the more grandparents you have, the more stuff you get.
There are many questions that should be asked. There are some that . . . should not. Allow me to give you a few examples. People tell me, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Saves nine what? Before they invented drawing boards, what did people go back to? If crime doesn’t pay, does that mean my job is a crime? Can you get cavities in your dentures if you use too much artificial sweetener? Why does an iron have a setting for “permanent press?” And if an article of clothing is “permanent press,” why does it need to be ironed anyway?
How do they put the “Keep off the Grass” signs on the lawn? How do you get off a non-stop flight? Where in the nursery rhyme does it say Humpty Dumpty was an egg, anyway? Why isn’t “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds? Why do we call it a “building” when it is already built? Why do we consider “clear” a color? Why does it take 15 minutes to cook “Minute Rice?” Why do we say something is “out of whack?” For that matter . . . what is a “whack?”
How did a fool and his money get together? If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2? Why do people tell you when they are speechless?
Do pilots take crash courses? Why do we say it’s a “free gift?” Aren’t all gifts free? Do vegetarians eat animal crackers? Why aren’t wrong numbers ever busy? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? When the clock was first invented, how did they know what time it was so they could set it? Why does Hawaii have interstate highways? If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends? Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor and dishwashing liquid with real lemons? Why is the third hand on a watch called a “second hand?” Where does your lap go when you stand up? How did the man who invented cottage cheese know he was done? These are the real questions people should ask.
One thing we know about Jesus as a young man is that he asked the right questions. Scripture tells us, “After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:46-47).
I bet Jesus wasn’t asking questions like, “Who killed the Dead Sea?” or “Who is buried in Abraham’s tomb?” The Bible doesn’t give us any clues about what He asked as a 12-year-old boy, but we do know that as an adult, he asked many thought-provoking questions. One day after Jesus had healed a paralytic man, He told him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The scribes really thought they had Him then. When they confronted Him, He turned the tables by asking them a simple question, “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?'” (Mark 2:9). I can almost imagine the looks on their faces as they stood there, speechless.
On another day, Jesus’ disciples were having a discussion about who He was. He turned to them and said, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:15). An entire sermon lies within that question. It really doesn’t matter what others think or say about Jesus. Who do you think, believe and say He is?
If you want to do an interesting Bible study someday, underline all the questions Jesus asked. You’ll discover the same thing I did: Jesus had a ministry of asking questions.
When your children ask dumb things like, “What do people who live in China call their good dishes?” or “What hair color do they list on the driver’s license of a bald man?” keep praying about them and their questions. One of these days . . . they’ll ask the right ones.