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Answering a Questioner

"Floating on cloud 9." "Light as a cloud." Angels, God, and our ancestors looking down on us from the heavenly cloudscape. Light, fluffy clouds have served as an image of tranquility, peace, and weightlessness for a long time in the collective mind of the west. When we refer to clouds as a comparison, we are almost always speaking about the white, fluffy, and near weightless existence that could be ours if only we were like or lived among the clouds themselves. Some believe we make this mistake because of their appearance in the sky: the distance between us and them (sometimes several kilometers). It is almost too easy to draw this  conclusion. The issue: clouds are really heavy! Without too much thought into it, you can quickly realize why: they are made of water. If you’ve ever carried a bucket of water, you know that it doesn’t take much to become exceedingly heavy. Part of the problem is that we are so far away from the clouds, that their pillowy nature looks soft and inviting. The other issue is they are in the air. Things that are in the air tend to be light. You haven't encountered feathers that weigh as much as cars or dust that isn't disturbed by a breath. Things in the air are light. A typical cumulus cloud on the other hand weighs about 1.1 million pounds. For you ton nerds out there: 550 tons. The only reason clouds stay "afloat" is due to dispersion and buoyancy. So we are dealing with a preconceived notion and it's affects on how we view the world. Cloud are not light, therefore it is time to evaluate other notions we may have.

It is so easy to make assumptions based on preconceived notions of a situation. When talking to people who don’t know Jesus, or are new to faith, or any similar situation, it can be so easy to assume that any question they may have is an open invitation to share the entirety of your theological beliefs and reasoning. You can imagine this would be overwhelming for someone who simply asks, “why is church on Sunday?” or something else seemingly small and innocent. You see, people are generally only able to take in as much information as the question they ask. You can view a question as evidence of a hole in knowledge seeking to be filled. Each question is a different hole with a different shape. The tension when sharing our faith with someone who expresses even a modicum of interest is that we believe we will never have another shot. It’s all or nothing in that moment.
The danger and mistake is one we must avoid as much as possible: assuming God can only work through what we can do in a moment, and forgetting that the questioner is more important than the question. Remember that God is sovereign over everything. Sovereign means possessing ultimate power. That means God has ultimate power over time and space and everything within and without those 4 dimensions. We forget His sovereignty at the risk of sinning against Him and not working within His will. God places people in our lives so that they can be loved by His people (us). God saves, we serve. That means that the question we receive is really secondary to nurturing and loving the questioner. Sometimes that might mean providing a specific answer, but it more often than not actually means getting to know someone, prioritizing them and their pain, joy, feelings, etc. The simplest way I have ever heard to ensconce this is: Remember that you are answering a questioner, not a question.