My name is Father Matt Woodley, and I’m one of the priests at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. I’m filming this today from my front porch in these crazy days of social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. And if you’re like me, you are asking some questions these days that you didn’t used to ask.
For instance, “What one day of the week am I going to go to the grocery store?” And, “When I go to the grocery store, is everything going to be on the shelves, or is some of the stuff I really need going to be absolutely gone? Bought out before I got there?”
Maybe you’re asking questions like, “When am I going to be able to see and hug people in my life that I really love that I haven’t seen for a while?” You know, as a pastor for 25 years in Minnesota and Long Island, New York, and now in Chicago, I have gotten used to, and really enjoyed, people asking what I call really good questions about Christianity, or the Bible, or church. These questions can be really good and can spark real creativity in our spiritual lives.
I was reading a book the other day by a guy named Warren Berger who’s a journalist and business consultant. He wrote a book called “A More Beautiful Question” in which he had a very simple premise, and that is that question can act like a screwdriver that pops open a paint can. They can release creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship, and I think that also applies to the spiritual life as well.
Unfortunately, over the years I’ve had many friends, and many people have crossed in my life through my work as a pastor, who have asked really good questions about spirituality.
Say for instance, they’ve asked things like, “How can you take the Bible literally? Who does that?” Or, “When it comes to religion, how can you say one religion is different or better than another religion?” Or, “Hasn’t science disproved God?” Or “Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why is there COVID-19?” And, “Why did this bad thing happened to me or to someone that I loved?” And so they’ve asked these really good questions and they’ve maybe gotten really simplistic answers, or they’ve maybe had the door shut in their face, or maybe, like my friend Ron, they’ve been told their whole life growing up, “Well, Ron, that’s a mystery.” “Sorry, Ron, that’s a mystery.” And that didn’t really help Ron, and I’m sure that didn’t help you.
Often people are surprised when they start reading the Bible, or when they hear me talk about the Bible, and the Bible is actually full of questions. It’s full of questions from human beings asking questions of God, and to God, and about life, and asking really honest questions to God from places of disorientation, and places of confusion, and places of doubt. I love that about the Bible! But the Bible is also full of questions of God asking questions of us! Questions that search our hearts, and plumb the depths of our heart, and reveal what’s in our heart. One of the things I love about Jesus is that Jesus was a great questioner. He loved asking good questions. I think this shows that God wants a real conversation with us. He wants a dialogue partner, as somebody has said.
So we have a very simple premise in this series of videos that we’re calling “Good Question with Father Matt,” and that is that questions are not only allowed, but they are positively welcomed.
You can submit questions to me for this series for future episodes. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So send me your questions. Each episode will take one simple question, and we hope that that one question can spark some transformation.
Just ask it honestly, and in three to four minutes, I’m not going to plumb the the depths and give the definitive once-for-all perfect answer to that question, but I’d like to share some things that I’ve thought about, some things that have been helpful for me, some things that have helped me wrestle through some of those questions. So, join us for future episodes. I hope you can tune in to Good Questions with Father Matt. I look forward to talking to you in future episodes!