There was a reading that I heard at Mass one Sunday when I was in high school, and for whatever reason, it really stuck with me. The verse says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” I didn’t necessarily know what I liked about this verse, or why it struck a chord with me, but it’s a verse I still find myself reflecting on every so often.
This verse is found in the Book of Revelation (chapter 3, verses 15 and 16), a fact that I did not realize until I was looking up the reference for this blog entry. I find it a touch ironic that this tiny verse, that I have been chewing on for years, comes from the Book that I find the most confusing in Scripture. It seems sort of appropriate, doesn’t it?
I wouldn’t have articulated it this way when I was a teenager, but I think what I liked about this verse was that it resonated with my personality (and that of many teenagers that I knew then and know now). As a teenager I genuinely cannot remember feeling neutral about things; I cannot remember a single time that I thought, either way, something ended up would be fine. I always had an opinion, I always had a question, I always wanted to fight against perceived injustice and corruption.
I think that this verse for me affirmed my nature. As a teen, I don’t remember ever feeling like I was supposed to ask questions about my faith or struggle with doubts and fears. There were the things you were told to believe and it was not ours to question why. If you wanted to go to heaven, you believed what you were taught and if you didn’t you were certainly going to hell. This verse, though, made it seem that even if you disagreed with what you were being taught, that was better than being neutral and not caring.
There are other examples of this phenomenon in scripture, of course. Job, for example, asks God throughout the entire narrative why He would allow something so terrible to befall him. His friends say that Job must have done something wrong and angered God, but Job argues and continues to ask God for an answer. We see Jacob wrestle with God (and then be renamed Israel which literally means ‘he struggles with God’) and the Lord blesses him for that struggle. We see Abraham argue with God, bargaining for the lives of people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Peter (and similarly other disciples) argue with Jesus throughout the Gospels and Jesus continues to teach them, to love them, and bless them.
The answer that we shouldn’t ask questions and it’s “not ours to wonder why” was never a very satisfying answer, in my humble opinion, because it didn’t teach me anything. When we look at the story of the Prodigal son, we see a child that turned against his father in every conceivable way. In fact, in those times saying “Give me my inheritance” was the same as saying “you are dead to me.” Still, we learn that the love of God extends past the ways we may hurt and reject him. Even if we give him the “cold” shoulder he loves us and welcomes us back. And we see that both of the sons, the one who was cold and the one who was hot in a manner of speaking, are loved by the Father and welcomed into the kingdom.
In short, the point is this, God wants us to ask questions. God wants us to seek answers, to seek truth because He knows that when we are seeking the truth and asking questions it will lead us to Him in the end.
I invite you to allow yourself to ask questions. I invite you to honestly and sincerely invite the Lord in and ask Him the hard questions.
Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries