Empty Pat answers

What kinds of answers are we giving to peoples spiritual questions?  It is something I have been giving some thought to in my own life.  For most of my life there was the quick “Christian answers” that I would here.  Answers that didn’t really answer my question, or if it did it just raised three more.  For ,he most part these answers just left me feeling like people didn’t really want to hear what I was saying, or to give any serious thought to the questions being raised.  Unfortunately as I grew up I found myself repeating the same answers I was being given in years past.  It seems like good hearted people have learned to answer questions a certain way without thinking.  They become like the greating we all give “How are you?”.  A greating which is given in passing without a single moment of thought to what the answer will be.   I was onced asked when I greated someone “Do you really want to know?  Or is this just the social question to ask without a response needed?”

It was a question that began my quest to remove all pat answers and questions from my life.  I was reading recently and was again confronted with the need to remove these quick comments and answers when I read 

“Pastor, if I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I raise it?” Thirteen-year-old Steve attended church every week with his parents. This particular Sunday, he had stayed after the worship service to ask his pastor this pressing question. The pastor replied, “Yes, God knows everything.” Haunted by the plight of African children suffering from dire famine, Steve then pulled out a Life magazine cover depicting two children tormented by starvation. He asked the logical follow-up, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those kids?” The pastor gave a similar response: “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.” 1 If you were Steve, would you be satisfied with the pastor’s answer to your question? Steve wasn’t. He walked out of his congregation that day and never again worshiped at a Christian church.

Powell, Kara; Mulder, Jake; Griffin, Brad. Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (Kindle Locations 1190-1198). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

People are not being helped at all by the quick comments and answers we offer them.  Comments and answers that are empty of thought and feeling.  They are just “the things we say”.   If we were to actually think about the comments we would probably quit using them, because the comments don’t encourage growth, they don’t encourage conversation, and they don’t develop relationships.  All of the things that God wants us to be doing.  When Jesus walked the earth He engaged people in the world they lived in.  He talked with them about what they were facing and He was open and taught them spiritual truths.  They were not always easy to take, and often hard to follow, but they were always relevant to where people were at.

Our empty comments and pat answers just tell people we are not really interested in them or their problems or concerns, and the world is hearing it.  One of the reasons churches are dying because they don’t see us having anything but empty phrases and pat answers to offer them.  They don’t see us as people who want to relate to them and engage with them on any real level.  It can be difficult to examine our faith and take a real look where it is just a surface faith which is doing little to affect our lives or our world.  It can create a crisis inside when we examine the empty phrases we have been building our lives upon without thinking of them.  But if we are willing to do so our faith can be a faith that moves mountains.  People are asking some great questions.  And they are searching for real answers.  Answers that can offer them something to commit their lives to.  Something that can transform their lives.  And those answers are available in Jesus if we are willing to go looking for them, and be willing to let go of the quick empty answers we currently are currently using.

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