July 18th, 2005


Knowing more by knowing less

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but they cannot learn it thus, it is only to be discovered by "looking unto Jesus."...If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God's chosen ones; but if you stop and say, "I want to know first whether I am elect," you ask you know not what. Go to Jesus, be you never so guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (18 July, Morning: "Assured Election")

Great reminder of what matters, and as such, a great reminder of all that doesn't.

Realizing that often I may not be complex enough in my consideration of how I relate with others. I think I tend to respond to those things that either agree with my own preferences or go against them, rather than searching for how Christ sees that person and where I am in his or her life.

The first matter, how Christ sees another person, is essential. And I've spent too much time wrestling with the gospel to go with a simple "Jesus loves everyone" boilerplate answer here. That's a cop-out from really understanding His heart, from struggling with how intensely challenging He is to almost everyone He comes across, even those closest to Him. The man is frustrating in so many ways. Am I willing to come to know Him instead of reducing Him to some huggy bumper sticker cliché?

Yet without question, His view of people is indeed rooted in love, love of a more robust nature than any of us have ever known outside of Him. I want Him to build that kind of heart in me. He wants to, too.

The second matter, where I am in the life of another, is a place where I misstep time and again—often to my own detriment as well as others'. This age of immediacy, with instant contact via telephone, email, and internet, has led me (quite unwittingly, but quite selfishly) to conclude that it's a good idea to speak indiscriminately into others' lives. If I hear or read it, in person or not, I consider it fair game to respond, regardless of the context or where I may fit in the lives of the other parties. That's just stupid.

Clearly, there's the simple issue of knowledge. Do I know what I think I know? Do I really? Moreover, am I willing to let my knowledge be reduced to one single thing, as Paul did?:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

—1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)
Commitment to that one truth would silence many other truths (and opinions) I'd otherwise speak.

There's also the issue of position. Something I hear in casual conversation with an acquaintance or read online is not the same as something heard from a close friend—I do not occupy the same position in those lives. And the lives themselves can be so very different. Some are people who have trusted God with their lives; some have not. Some are people who have entrusted me with their lives in some measure; others are not. Just because I see someone's face regularly or read their words online daily doesn't make us friends in the sense that I have any significant place in their lives, or vice versa.

I tend to respond one way to all, and I need to let some of that go. I don't for one moment believe that capital-T Truth is relative, but where we stand in relation to it varies greatly. When I'm letting my own preferences dictate how I respond, I'm trying to advocate and create a universe that makes me happy and doesn't get on my nerves. At risk of making the grossest understatement in history, there are more important concerns than this.