KNOW IT ALL
By Chad West
We’re busy people. Straining our backs to pull the pick through the air in an effort to break another stone. Another stone, another paycheck. Another car payment. Another visit to the orthodontist for Jenni. Another trunk-load of groceries from Publix. Always another. Yet, we’re expect to be informed. At most, we have time to skim the paper with our coffee, or watch the evening news while our children pretend to be something very loud that runs much. With exceptions, this is life.
We can’t be experts on foreign policy or know the depth of complexity on most issues. It’s not an excuse, it’s reality. Many of us try our best to have a cursory knowledge of the world around us. But it’s difficult. We Christians are also expected to wake early enough on Sunday morning to dress our children in bows and tiny sports coats to learn the nuanced teaching of all 66 books of a bible we don’t read enough, think about enough, or study enough. It’s never enough. None of it. Our little bubble of time laughs at us.
Knowing all of this should humble us,
instead, we scrape up the bits of truth we have and pretend to be experts.
I have no children who are peeing on the neighbors azalea bushes or beating one another senseless over who plays the Xbox next, but
- I’ll gladly scoff at some misbehaving scamp in a Denny’s and pontificate with my lunch partner on where the parent’s went wrong.
- I’ll talk about the political climate, and the current President, and the intricacies of law with something I’d be embarrassed to call comprehension.
- I’ll personally expound on bible verses I’ve decided I completely and utterly understand at length only to find that the context is greater than I’ve given credit, which makes my point null and void. I’m proud and foolish.
I have great excuses for being at the level at which I am in all that I do. I don’t mean that sarcastically either. I’m no expert on all things because I simply haven’t lived long enough to be so. It’s not been my job to understand, say, politics. But I’ve endeavored to watch enough news and study enough history to make me conversant. (If politics were Spanish, I could easily ask where the bathroom is.) And, while I have a degree in counseling psychology, I never specialized in something like child-rearing, nor—as I mentioned—do I have much personal experience there. I was also a pastor for several years, and I’ve always had a deep passion for learning the Scriptures. I’ve accomplished more in this area than all the others, and feel competent in what I know. Yet, I’m no bible scholar, nor could I order a cheeseburger with extra pickles in the original languages.
But I will correct you. I will attack with the ferocity of a tenured professor of advanced age and talents. I will write lengthy posts, and responses to your foolish Facebook memes (if only in my head). I will not consider that I could be wrong, or that there could ever be a point-of-view different from my own that had any validity worth considering. I will simply raise my hands, bare my claws, and rip you to shreds. I’m very good at that.
If they offered such a thing,
I might even be working on my PhD in it.
I looked in the mirror earlier, and I had cheese in my beard. The cuff on the pants I’m wearing is hanging loose. I plan to go out in public wearing them later. I’m a couple dozen pounds overweight and live with a psychological disorder that saps up at least 30% of my mental energy on a good day. I need a haircut, my room’s a mess, I haven’t bothered to look up the facts on the latest thing I’m mad enough to blindly write comments on other people’s posts about… and did I mention that cheese-beard thing?
I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be an expert on everything. That I’m an imperfect conglomeration of unfinished facts. I don’t have to correct every error I see in someone else’s life. Don’t have to confront every racist, bigot or sexist. But it is important to look for those things in myself. Even if they exist only as a sliver in my finger. Maybe that’ll humble me enough to be able to see past the surface things that I want to rail against to the people doing them. Maybe recognizing my incapacity to know it all or have all the answers will give me the humility to embrace them where they are, no matter how deeply I disagree with them. Because we’re both just struggling. We’re both trying to understand. And maybe that love will create questions for this sinner. At least one of them. Because there’s only one thing I know for sure—one answer—Christ died for sinners like me and you.