Pastor's Blog: Learning to Live with a Why

 |  Pastor's Blog

The next week will mark the end of an era, albeit a relatively brief one, as Yahoo Answers shuts down its operations. For those of you not familiar with this resource, Yahoo Answers launched in 2005 as an online source of information for those who needed help with all manner of questions, some serious, others frivolous. But after 16 years of crowdsourcing responses to people’s inquiries, Yahoo execs have recently announced that they plan to end this part of their services, beginning this Tuesday, April 20.

For those panicked souls among us, Google Answers will of course still be available. In fact, I’ve always been curious that so many have chosen Yahoo Answers over Google Answers, especially considering how Yahoo Answers always required a couple of days of waiting for a response while Google was instantaneous. According to people who pay attention to these sorts of things, that’s because Yahoo Answers also doubles for its users as a means of confirmation and social support. In other words, the gain for users of Yahoo Answers was relational as much as informational.

Reading this news led me to two takeaways for church life. One, let us in the church never forget that people value relationships over everything else, even if those relationships must come with some distance. While in the church we may think that people are drawn in our direction by great preaching and music, the fact remains that while people may first show up for the preaching and music, it’s the fellowship that keeps them coming. That’s why the day a church begins to exist for the sole benefit of its members is the day it begins to die. Secondly, most people have lots of questions, and many of them deal with matters of faith as much as anything else. Indeed, I might argue that the most important questions are those that are essentially faith questions because of how there is much in life that can’t be reduced to a simple formula, equation, or quick answer. I’ve always said that sometimes in life we find it necessary to learn how to live with a “why,” and that is where the province of faith becomes so important.

If there’s a bridge between these two takeaways, it’s the importance of Christian community. In the “communion of the saints,” as we confess in each Sunday’s worship, we find the relationships we need to learn how to live with all our “whys.” For the most serious of questions, we learn how to help one another, how to support one another, how to encourage one another, and sometimes how to believe with and for one another. The more I’m reminded of this truth, the more I feel sorry for those who think they don’t need church because they assume they can manage on their own. As we all know, the time will come when the reality hits them that they can’t. But when it does, at least for those in our community, rest assured we’ll be here to help them pick up the pieces.

Therefore, I’m far more upbeat about the prospects for church in general and MBBC in particular than some. While so much in this world has a shelf life and even something as beneficial as Yahoo Answers will eventually run its course, places like MBBC will endure, because we offer something that nothing else can – the faith that is required to know how to live with unanswered questions and a community around us to help us do so until an answer comes; no matter how long it takes and no matter how much support is required. Such is why we can confidently exclaim, “To (God) be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.” 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15-16).