Jesus never let the people around him dictate the conversation.
When challenged to answer close-ended narrow questions, he always found a way to steer the conversation in a new direction:
So chief priests and elders answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
- Matthew 21:27
Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, the Pharisees asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? – Matthew 12:10-11
Pilate went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. – John 19:9
Jesus often answered questions with questions. Instead of letting people come to him and set the agenda, he either changed the conversation entirely or simply refused to answer.
We live in a world full of agendas. It is a close-ended narrow place. People want you to answer their questions and choose a side.
When it comes to expressing their views, many Christians choose to speak first and often. They try to answer every question they encounter. But sometimes it is right to remain silent. Sometimes it is wise to consider if there isn’t another better conversation to be had.
You don’t have to go looking for trouble. We have an abundance of agendas, moral and political issues, controversies and dilemmas. And these are all in constant flux.
But if Christ is risen and real, the things that matter most to most people may actually matter very little. The topics that rage across the headlines and internet forums and Facebook statuses are hours away from being yesterday’s news.
If sin and death have been defeated, the real battles in this world are not over policy but over things of much more eternal value.
If what is true will outlive what is not true, perhaps there is a better way to hold conversations:
Don’t answer every question.
Don’t talk about the things that everyone else is talking about.
Don’t look on the surface, but always look to the question behind all those questions.
After all, it’s what Jesus did.