THE ULTIMATE QUESTION
by David Sisler
Philosophers frequently operate under the premise, it's not how good an answer you give, but how good is the question to which you are responding. In other words, what you are asked may be more important than how you answer.
However, there are some basic questions that produce more profound answers than the framers of the questions could ever have imagined. Consider the following question and answer:
Some tourists traveling through New England stopped one day at a local art center. The meadow next to the parking lot was used by a farmer to pasture his cows. When the tourists opened the door of their car to give their dog some fresh air, Rover bolted out of the car, and ran straight for the cows.
Surrounding the pasture was an electric fence - put up by the farmer primarily to keep the cows in. It also served to keep traveling dogs out. The dog hit the electric fence and with a howl of pain, disappeared into the woods.
After an hour of hot pursuit, the dog was back in his owners arms, not completely recovered from his shocking experience. As the owner stuffed the dog into the car, he angrily asked the farmer, "Why didn't you put a warning sign on that fence?!"
The farmer replied, "Well, I would have - if I had known your dog could read."
Good question. Better answer.
With the economy weak, many people are in the job search market. Employment services state that no matter what firm is conducting the interview, there are some basic questions a prospective worker will be asked. You will never be able to answer a "good" interview question with a simple, "Yes" or "No."
You know you will be asked, "What are your strengths?" You can probably answer that one easily. But what if the interviewer says, "What are your weaknesses?" You almost certainly will not get the job if you answer, "I can't think of any."
Another easy question is, "What can you do for us?" You know your strengths; you've researched the firm where you are applying, so you plug yourself into the job. A parallel, but more difficult question is, "What type of boss do you like?" If you answer, "One I see once a year," you probably won't be hired.
When the interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself," you are being asked to give a personal assessment of yourself. It is not an easy job. Can you give a two minute capsule of your life? What would you list first? Your education? Your family? Your professional accomplishments? What the interviewer is asking is, "Who are you, really?"
One day, while traveling in Samaria, Jesus stopped in the middle of a dusty road and asked, "Who am I, really?" The Bible gives no indication what the topic of conversation had been at that moment.
Within the space of a few days, Jesus had miraculous fed over 10,000 people and healed one blind man. Maybe the disciples were reviewing those events and offering speculation, "Who is this man, that he has such power?" Whatever the conversation had been, Jesus focused on the most important question that has ever been asked: "Who do people say I am?"
Popular opinion speculated that Jesus was John the Baptist or Elijah, perhaps even Moses. If that question was asked today, we would say, "a good man," "a great teacher," "a man of unimpeachable character." But none of those are the right answer. They weren't then. They aren't today.
Jesus dismissed the conjecture and asked, "What about you? Who do you say I am?" That is life's ultimate question - who is Jesus? Jesus counted all the answers wrong except one. It was the one offered by Simon Peter: "You are the Christ. The Son of the Living God."
Who is Jesus? That is your question. What is your answer?
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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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