The question is asked when wondering how an addict stoops to those depths, a pop star makes crazy an art form, a husband abandons his wife and little ones, a pastor risks everything for nothing, a woman turns traitor on a friend.
It is a natural response when looking at outlandish, controversial, out-of-bounds activity to ask…“Why would anyone do that!?”
At one point or another each of us has probably in one of these or innumerable other ways lived a questionable life, made questionable decisions, said questionable things or reacted with questionable motives. Such moments really make us want to avoid a questionable life.
But here’s another angle. That question—“how could they do that”—can be asked not just of some dubious decisions or appalling actions. It also arises when something incomprehensibly and inexplicably good happens before our incredulous eyes.
- When facing impossible odds I hang on to hope and dream of a future, I have a questionable life.
- When confronted with unmerited suffering I demonstrate joy and endurance, I have a questionable life.
- When betrayed by piercing disloyalty I respond with forgiveness and reconciliation, I have a questionable life.
- When living daily routines that stretch endlessly with little apparent significance I live as one with a sense of purpose and destiny, I have a questionable life.
- When confronting cultural inequity and social injustice I respond with costly compassion and risky grace, I have a questionable life.
When passion for Jesus produces such a radical lifestyle that people around us are puzzled as to why we would act like that, or when love for people creates such intense engagement that onlookers wonder how we could care like that, then we are living questionable lives.
A questionable life is one marked by the utter uniqueness of Jesus’ beauty and goodness within a world branded by ugliness and evil.
A life like that leaves people perplexed: “Why would they do that? How could they do that?”
Jesus lived the most questionable life of anyone who ever drew breath. He was constantly confronted by blank stares from his friends, naive questions from the crowds, and idiotic misunderstandings from the religious. His life prompted wonder and engendered examination.
Both Peter and Paul indicate that our lives as Jesus followers should have that same uniqueness—an edge, an originality…yes, a special kind of weirdness—that induces people to ask the “why” and “how” of our living.
Paul told the Colossians, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” How we speak with and relate to people who don’t yet know who Jesus is or how forgiven they are should be so kind and intriguing that people cannot help but ask…“Why is he like that?”
Peter told his readers who were experiencing unfair accusation and unkind treatment: “…in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” A life under Jesus’ reign is to be so gentle and respectful in the face of mistreatment that people who see will be prompted to ask…“How does she do that?”
We modern Christians need to lose our religious propriety and live more questionable lives!
No, not more of the scandal of sin—we’ve been and seen too much of that.
But we do need lots more of the scandal of grace. Lives so transformed and distinctive that people naturally ask…“What makes you so different?”
Is this the type of living Jesus presented in his incarnation, proved by his crucifixion and provided with his resurrection?