It’s not just about knowing what you believe. It’s about knowing why you believe it. If I offer you a rehearsed sentence, a platitude, a ready answer to a difficult question and you come back at me, what happens? Do I understand the answer I have given? Is it merely an answer I have borrowed? Have I been on a journey through the difficult questions in order to find that answer? Perhaps I should not call it an answer, but a response. I respond in a certain way because I believe certain things. But do I know why I believe them? Are they realities, or just words?
Why are we afraid of difficult questions? Why are we afraid to admit our own ignorance, struggles, continuing journeys in a messy world? We know only in part, but how partial is our knowledge?
Are my answers my own? Have I looked into the issues myself, or merely relied on secondhand wisdom? Do I think it my duty to look into the things of God or my need?
We think we can rely on borrowed answers but without knowing the background or the reason they are inadequate. Life involves getting your hands dirty. If we offer a borrowed answer, how can we explain it further? How can we be convincing?
Lately I am coming across these questions in many different places, nudges and niggles. And the realisation that if we only use borrowed answers, we will be afraid of them. We will be afraid of them because we can’t explain them. We will be afraid of them because we don’t understand them.
They may well be the right answers, or as close as we can get for now. But we need to know why.
Otherwise, they become merely clever words, toppled at the slightest sign of storms.