I remember sitting in a classroom with one of my favorite teachers. He was an interesting and eccentric older man, filled with the most incredible stories.
He was similar to Forrest Gump — always at the right place at the right time when really significant things happened. He would occasionally tell us about times when he had met very influential Christian leaders, and he would always be able to tell if they were proud or humble based on the kinds of questions they asked.
One time, he told us about a negative interaction he had with a very prominent Christian preacher. He said that in a 30-minute conversation, this famous preacher did not ask him a single question about his life or work or family. He only talked about himself and made others carry the conversation. In my teacher’s opinion, this smacked of self-importance and arrogance.
This happens to the best of us, though, doesn’t it? We can get into a conversation and get so caught up in talking about ourselves that we forget that there is another person on the receiving end of our monologue. Maybe that person is carrying the weight of the world on his heart, and we’d never know.
Asking thoughtful questions can be a helpful way of showing humility and care for others. In these discouraging days of political and cultural frustration, not to mention the still-ongoing worldwide pandemic, the personal touch of a thoughtful question can mean more than you know.
That also means that if someone asks you a few questions, it may not be intended as a vicious interrogation, but it could very likely be their way of saying that they care about you.
I think it’s instructive for us that Jesus’ first recorded word in the Gospel of John is a question. He asks two disciples of John the Baptist, “What are you seeking?”
And I believe this sets the stage for a book that highlights Jesus’ personal care in one-on-one conversations. Whether it’s his conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, or with Peter in John 21, Jesus asks probing questions designed to reveal the heart of the other person.
I believe we should all wrestle with Jesus’ question, “What are you seeking?” What do you seek in life? What could you find or achieve or attain that would make you truly happy? Is it money or property? A husband or a wife? Children? Political influence? A seat at the table with those pulling the strings? For your kids to turn out OK? To stay out of trouble? To get a good night’s sleep?
Jesus offers peace that surpasses understanding and blessings beyond measure, and that’s because Jesus invites you to seek him above every other pursuit.
Seeking Jesus means recognizing your own sin, receiving the grace that He offers, denying yourself, and following Him. It’s in that path that a true relationship with Jesus will thrive, and those who seek will find.
Garrett Walden is a pastor at Grace Heritage Church in Auburn, and he's a 6th grade teacher at Auburn Classical Academy. He's an Auburn University alum living in Opelika with his wife and three kids.