The Know-It-All (Or how I’m learning humility from a child)

I’m pretty sure that in any context, in any walk of life, the person that annoys me the most is a know-it-all. Most recently this has taken the form of a child that has entered our home. They want to argue about everything and present ridiculous and incorrect statements as if they were chiselled in stone.

And it’s annoying sure, but it’s also sad. They have such a limited perspective that has no room for adjustment or a recognition of how they just maybe might possibly not be correct. Their world is so small and I want to just yell at them “No, you don’t know everything! You know almost NOTHING!” So yes, that’s something for me and my wife to work on with this child.

But the thing that really hit home with me about this whole know-it-all thing was how often I act this way with God. I have an incredibly limited view when compared with the creator of the universe and yet I have no qualms about arguing with him about how things “should” be or what He “needs” to be doing. As if He needs my advice…but instead of praying and asking what God wants from me, where I can adjust my life to His will, and how I can serve Him I tell Him what I want and what I think.

Look, it isn’t easy to see all the stuff going on in the world and in lives around me (heck, even my own life) and to not think that I could do a better job. But then I remember how small and insignificant and sinful and limited and everything else that I am and realize that maybe I should let God be God and go ahead and just get to the work of living my life trying to glorify Him. After all, Job questioned God about a few things and it didn’t really go so well for him, so maybe I’ll just leave well enough alone.¹

So I’ve come to realization that maybe know-it-alls bother me so much because they simply remind me of…well, me.

 

 

  1. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

    “Dress for action like a man;
        I will question you, and you make it known to me.
    Will you even put me in the wrong?
        Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
    Have you an arm like God,
        and can you thunder with a voice like his?

    – Job 40:6-9

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What if the greatest threat to American Christianity isn’t legislated morality but our own apathy?

I’m not breaking any new ground here, but recent events have gotten me thinking about the state of Christianity in America today. And I’m convinced that the biggest threat to Christianity in America isn’t abortion or gay marriage or any other hot button issue you’d like to argue on Facebook about, but instead our own tepidness towards actually doing the business of following Christ¹. You know, like Jesus Christ, that one guy whose name actually is the basis for the word “Christian”?

We live in a world filled with distractions, sports and entertainment being chief among them. Our children have games on Sunday mornings so we skip services to attend. Our sermons are boring (have you ever listened to one of mine? Guilty) so we’d rather just stay at home and veg out than make the effort to come all the way to church. It’s too much of a strain to come to a mid-week Bible study so we stay home to have “family time.” Pick a reason or excuse and we’ll use it to not read our Bible, pray, or gather together with other believers.

But don’t you dare say anything we disagree with on social media because we will come after you with guns ablaze. We’ll spend hours refreshing our feeds to participate in online debates with people we don’t even know but we won’t spend time engaging in the messy lives of people we actually do know.

I find the story of Daniel and the Lions Den, as told in Daniel 6, fascinating as it relates to legislation and piety. Daniel lived in a nation that made it illegal to pray to anyone or anything other than the king² and what was his first reponse? Run to his social media platforms and proclaim that the Medes and Persians needed to get back to God? Lambaste anyone that disagreed with him? Nope. Daniel 6:10 tells us what he did. “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

What would happen if we just decided to spend some time in prayer before we got on our social media? Or skipped it altogether to spend time in the Bible instead? What if we devoted ourselves to God’s Word, to spending time in authentic community with other people, and to being engaged in prayer, as the early church did? I think God would be pleased and I think that we’d see our world around us start to change, very likely beginning with our own hearts.³

What if the greatest threat to Christianity lies within our own hearts and our uncommitted, half-hearted following of Christ?

¹I’m not saying that these aren’t important issues worthy of our time or energy, but instead that we seem to have given the issues priority over the Savior.

²All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. – Daniel 6:7-9

³I say all these things fully recognizing that I’m as big of an offender for these things as anyone. Probably worse.

Undesired Consequences (or paying the price for other people’s actions)

As my wife and I neared the end of a week filled with tantrums and misbehavior from our foster son, we’d both pretty much had enough. As we were right in the middle of another meltdown she looked at me and said “Why? Why is this happening?” I immediately responded without thinking and said “Because we’re paying the price for other people’s actions.” And as soon as I said it, I stopped.

I stopped because I immediately realized that suffering the consequences of other people’s actions is exactly what Jesus did on the cross. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death¹ and that he who knew no sin became sin for us². So all of my sinful actions (and trust me, there are plenty) ended up in Jesus dying on the cross and paying the penalty that I deserved, which was death.

But it doesn’t just stop there either! Not only do I not reap the consequences of my sin, but I also receive the free gift of eternal life. Jesus paid my debt and then turned around and gifted me something I never could have earned for myself. So while I’ll still suffer temporal consequences of sin and death (after all, we still live in a fallen world), I can rest secure knowing that my eternal life is paid for. What a glorious picture of God’s redemptive work in our lives!

It’s true, we’ve signed up to parent someone else’s child and to deal with all kinds of baggage we didn’t bring on ourselves. But before I get too self-righteous, I need to remember that I bring plenty of baggage to the party and ultimately someone else paid the final price for my sin, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

 

¹For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 6:23 (ESV)

²For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  -2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

Why? (Or things that a 4 year-old is teaching me about my relationship to God)

whyMy wife and I recently welcomed a 4 year old foster child into our home. It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but the biggest thing we’ve had to get used to is the questions.  The constant questions.  Of why?

Why?

Why?

Why?

Everything is why? Why this, why that, why is it raining, why isn’t it raining, why?

So the other day, in the middle of a why chain, my wife looks at me and says, “Do you think we sound this way to God?”

And you know what? I think she’s right. Far too often I find myself asking God why.  And I think it is a legitimate question, but I think that sometimes I sound like a four year-old to God. Why? Why didn’t I get that job? Why did my friend get cancer? Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I do that? And then my questioning of God becomes something more than just questioning, it becomes idolatry.

Idolatry?

When I’m questioning God about everything, mostly I think it’s because I think I know better than God, and when that’s the case, I’m telling Him that I should be god and not Him, and that’s idolatry. So questions of why are fine, but they should be firmly grounded in a view of God’s sovereignty and trust in His goodness.  The road may not always be easy and I likely won’t always understand, but this I do know, I can trust God with my life.  He’ll never fail me, even when I don’t understand.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

– Isaiah 55:8-9