What kind of responses would you get if you set up a web page allowing people to anonymously submit questions they've always wanted to ask about Jesus, and then made it known to an audience consisting of a large number of people who are exploring Christianity for their life?
That is exactly what we recently did at Mecklenburg Community Church and we were blown away by both the volume of the response as well as the insightful, informed nature of the questions. Spiritual and biblical illiteracy in a post-Christian world does not mean they don't hear enough of a Christian echo to know what their questions are.
It's the answers that elude them.
After sifting through the questions, it became clear they could be grouped around three poles: 1) the personal life of Jesus; 2) the actions of Jesus; and 3) the saving work of Jesus.
Here are the top five questions in each category (And, granted, some of the nomenclature is ours – e.g., not many knew anything about Calvinism; however, they intuitively asked Calvinism/Arminianism types of questions.):
The Personal Life of Jesus
- What did He look like?
- What was His childhood like?
- Did He have any siblings?
- When did He know He was God?
- Was He ever married?
The Actions of Jesus
- Why did He pray to God if He was God?
- Why did He meet with the devil?
- Why did He overturn the tables in the temple?
- Why did He choose Judas knowing he would betray Him?
- Why did He say, "My God, why have you forsaken me?"
The Saving Work of Jesus
- What about people before Jesus—how were they saved?
- What about those who have never heard about Jesus or can't understand?
- What about those who believed in Jesus and then turned away?
- What about predestination—was Jesus a Calvinist?
- What about Jesus and deathbed conversions?
For three weeks, I tackled one set of questions per week and ploughed my way through each and every one. If you are interested, you can get the series HERE.
This was nowhere close to a formal survey of the exploring population, so let's not call it normative. But let's do call it informative. Let the questions soak in. And then, once they do, make sure you know how to answer them.
It's what many people want to know about Jesus the most.
James Emery White
The three installments of the series, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Jesus, but Were Afraid to Ask," can be found on the Messages by James Emery White page at ChurchAndCulture.org in both .mp3 and .pdf formats.