being right


Today we were working on some problems in my physics class. They weren’t all that tough but I was still barraged with questions.
Some of my kids just wanted me to give them the answers.
Some of the others had the answer and just wanted me to tell them that they were right.
And lets be honest, half the kids were just copying each others.
But, I really didn’t care if they were right.
All I wanted was them to learn how to work the problem on their own.
Meaning I am more concerned with them learning a concept and skill than I am about them actually getting the right answer every time.
And giving it to them doesn’t really teach them anything. And copying may get them the right answer once....but they won't be able to use it in the long run.
And yes, this means that sometimes they get it wrong, but that is the risk I take when I really want them to learn something.

Tonight I was at a book club, which is often more like a bible study and we started to have some pretty differing opinions.
The voice levels started to go up a notch and I was afraid it was going to get ugly. It didn’t.
We found some common ground and heard each other out.
But
Essentially it was about being right.
Clear cut answers and rules and yeses and nos.

Recently I read that Jesus was asked 25 questions throughout the gospels by both his friends and enemies. “Yet only once during his three-year public ministry, prior to his arrest and trial, did Jesus answer a closed-ended question with a closed-ended answer (Mt 21:16).”
I’m not 100% sure how accurate that statement is but I did a little research myself and almost never found Jesus answering flat out.
When Jesus was asked why his disciples weren’t fasting, he started talking about a wedding (Matt 9:14)
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answer wasn’t even part of the 10 commandments at all. (Matt 22:36)
When asked about paying taxes, Jesus asked whose picture was on the coin. (Matt 22:17)
When asked about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus started talking about sheep ( Matt 12:10)
And if you want a confusing answer, try reading the one where his disciples asked why he spoke in parables. (Matt 13:10)
(and here is a list of some more)

Jesus rarely seemed to give easy clear cut answers.
He answered with impossible things, or stories, or examples and was especially fond of answering questions with questions.
Turns out he asks a lot more questions that he answers.

At least not with a yes or a no or a simple one or two word answer.
I mean he could have used his 3 year ministry just writing a little how to book and most of us would try and follow it. Exactly.
Instead he told stories, and loved people and went to weddings and dinners and broke rules and fed people and healed people and prayed and asked a lot of questions and answered a few.
He never even mentions some of right wing fundamentalists favorite topics.
And not being specific is a little risky. Because it means we will occasionally get it wrong or disagree.
And sometimes people worry that if we don’t have answers that we will somehow lose truth.
But Jesus has an answer for that. Not a direct one of course. Something bigger and broader and even better than the answer to the original question.

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:5
Essentially, his disciples were asking the way. They wanted to make sure they wouldn’t get lost.
And he didn’t answer with directions or a map.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

The truth we are looking so earnestly for and trying to nail down isn’t our stance on a particular issue.
Jesus is truth. And the way. And the life.

And I think Jesus has something more in mind for us than just being right.
Than telling us yes or no.
Like love. And truth. And justice. And him. Mostly just him.
And that we will learn so much more from our own pursuit of answers.
Rather than just copying someone elses.



(and no, the picture has nothing to do with the post. i just thought my kid was awfully cute)


2 comments:

samskat said...

LOL...he is cute!! :)

Dawn said...

I love that picture. I hope you put that in a frame and hang it on your wall!