Inspired Questions: A New Approach to Advent and Christmas
WORDS BY DR. BRIAN J. WRIGHT
Advent and Christmas are just around the corner. As they draw near, perhaps we should consider a fresh approach for our daily devotions and small-group discussions—asking others and ourselves inspired questions.
Inspired questions are the ones already asked in God’s inspired Word. They are the best questions because they automatically draw our attention to Christ, the Scriptures, and God’s sovereign work in this world. They help us sense the presence of God in our lives and empower us to become more sensitive to the Spirit’s moving. They reveal our hearts in ways other questions do not.
For instance, recall some of the questions Jesus asked:
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)
“Why do you question these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8)
“Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44)
“Do you now believe?” (John 16:31)
Asking questions was a primary teaching method of Jesus. Indeed, a substantial portion of our Bible is questions. The New Testament alone contains approximately 980 questions.
USING INSPIRED QUESTIONS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
One way to approach Advent and Christmas this year via inspired questions is by focusing on the ones that coincide with these celebrations topically or within the biblical narratives. Consider making a list of such questions for personal reflection or small-group discussion.
For example, take the first question in the Gospel of John: “Who are you?” (John 1:19). The “you” is not you in this question. Neither is it Jesus, of whom people would go on to ask the same question. It is John the Baptist. His sole mission was to give testimony to Jesus. He wanted people to see Jesus clearly, even to the point of forsaking any personal prestige. What a remarkable example for us to follow this Advent and Christmas season. You—like John—are only a voice in comparison to Christ. This type of humility will make you praiseworthy in God’s eyes, and he will use you greatly because of it.
Or consider this question that occurs only a few verses later: “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). This inspired question comprises the first words of Jesus in John’s Gospel and clues you into several aspects of discipleship. Jesus sees those who follow him and immediately beckons them onward. What a great start to the life-changing moment of following Jesus and having a relationship with Him! Recall your conversion experience. Remember the joy of your salvation. Don’t forget your first love. Look entirely to Jesus this Advent and Christmas season.
Perhaps you would prefer to start with a question from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus’ birth was foretold. Upon hearing the news that she would conceive and give birth to a son, Mary asked the angel Gabriel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). You too may be justified in recognizing a very real obstacle in front of you. You may be trusting God and what he can accomplish through you, but you do still wonder what the process will look like and how God will carry it out through you. In fact, this inspired question might even reveal that your faith is more open to and confident in God’s supernatural power (like Mary) than that of a pastor or leader in the church (like Zechariah). Continue talking to God in prayer this Advent and Christmas season. Keep on humbly submitting to him and his way. Never stop trusting in his love and loving ways. Be about the work God has set out for you.
Beyond examining specific narratives of Christ’s first coming, you could also consider picking inspired questions that connect with Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. Here are a few inspired questions to get you started:
“For who hopes for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24)
“Do you suppose that I have come to give peace on earth?” (Luke 12:51)
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32)
Once you create a list of questions, pick one each day to meditate on during your time alone with God, or a small handful of them for your time together with others.
DEEPLY ROOTED RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
All kinds of questions are good to ask. They help us learn and encourage us to dig deeper. They personalize information. But we should prioritize inspired questions above all the rest. These are God’s questions to his people, calling us to respond over and over again—individually and communally.
While motivational quotes and inspirational stories will always be popular, they rarely change lives like inspired questions do.
That is why adopting this new approach of asking inspired questions could be exactly what you and your small group need this Advent and Christmas season.
Do not let this most festive and refreshing time of the year get snowed under by all the hustle and bustle of commercialized Christmas. Stay focused on God. Remain in prayer. Limit distractions. Ask and answer the questions preserved in God’s Word. By doing so, you and your community will be encouraged, equipped, and inspired into a deeply rooted relationship with Jesus Christ this Advent and Christmas season.
For more thoughts on Inspired Questions, see Dr. Wright's latest book:
Dr. Brian J. Wright is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.) and Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia (Ph.D.). Brian serves full-time in pastoral ministry as a chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and also teaches for several universities and seminaries as an adjunct professor. He and his wife Daniella currently live in Florida with their four children. He is the author of the book "Inspired Questions" and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, or Academia.
**This article is adapted from one that originally appeared on Crosswalk.com.