“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Posted on: 20th March 2023
CMS missionaries Chris and Kristy Galea are serving in Malta, where they hope to be able to use their developing language skills to explore life’s big questions with their Maltese friends and neighbours. Chris writes:
Upon entering the carpark, we caught this brief interaction behind us between two Maltese speakers.
“Do you have space?” asked the customer, to which the parking attendant replied, “do you have money?”
Kristy and I chuckled to each other. Not just about the attendant’s opportunistic mindset, but also with excitement that we could understand what was being said!
It struck me that Jesus often responded to a question with another question. Consider these examples from the Gospels of Luke and Mark. An expert in the law asks, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” (Luke 10:25-26). Again, a rich man asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies: “Why do you call me good?” (Mark 10:17-18).
Often, we close conversations when we just give an answer. Questions, on the other hand, can produce curiosity and make us examine our thoughts and attitudes. They have a way of getting to the heart of why we believe what we believe.
My barber recently told me about a time when he was six years old and attended Catechism class (a normal part of Catholic upbringing for Maltese children). He remembers asking about the story of Adam and Eve, sharing some doubts he had with the teacher, and being harshly reprimanded. Today he connects his opposition to religious beliefs to that experience.
“Questions can produce curiosity and make us examine our thoughts and attitudes.”
There is a Maltese proverb that rightly says: Il-mistoqsija oħt il-għerf (‘the question is the sister of wisdom’).
This is the shape we want our ministries to take. To be people who ask good questions, and encourage others to do the same. To be ready to respond to questions with openness, and create environments for people to engage.
Our hope is that, like the rich man and the expert in the law, the people we are here to serve might be drawn to ask questions about eternity. Pray with us that they would find the answers in Jesus.
Pray for Chris, Kristy, and the many other CMS missionaries who are working hard at language learning so they can answer people’s questions about Jesus with accuracy and understanding.