“Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things’” Matt 21:27
We have a very peculiar cultural rule; that if someone asks you a question, you have to answer that question. We seem to think we’re somehow obliged to answer, as though we’re permanently standing in some courtroom with a lawyer saying, “Answer the question please… and do remember, you’re under oath”.
But you’re not.
A valid answer to some questions is simply, “I don’t feel comfortable telling you that.”
In fact, I believe that many times, that is the best and most loving answer to give. It protects people, both the hearer and the speaker. It may even be protecting other people.
What’s the big theological principle behind this? Simply this… “everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Matt 12:36
You don’t have to answer every question you get asked, because you only have to answer to God.
Most questions get asked because of wrong assumptions. They’re still good questions. They’re not stupid questions. But people ask them because what you’re telling them doesn’t fit with their existing believes, and they assume you’re wrong.
So that’s why the best answers to questions (especially in public “question time” type things, or in walk-up situations) don’t immediately answer the question.
Instead, before you answer, start with your own system or grid. Two Ways to Live is a great one to start with.
Are they asking about sin? Talk about box 2.
Are they talking about knowing God? Talk about box 1, and then box 4.
Are they talking about life after death? Talk about box 5.
This doesn’t cover everything, but the principle is that there’s usually some important element they haven’t got that’s led to the question. So start with your system, and move to their issue.
One great question answer-er I knew once said, “There’s only about 10 questions, but those same questions keep getting asked in different ways”