29 May 2015 - clay
Leave no one behind
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
– Romans 15: 1-4
Sometimes as Christians we think we’ve arrived. We think we’re at a level of spiritual maturity that should be obvious to those around us. We can’t understand why anyone would hesitate to ask us deep questions about the Bible. We think we know so much.
And then we are confronted with the truth.
A year or so ago, I started to feel this way. I had about 60 seminary hours under my belt (along with two other degrees), had been a staff member at our previous church, was a board member of a thriving missions organization, and felt pretty smug. I was a smart guy and I was out to show others just how smart I was, in a Christian way of course.[footnote]Yeah, I don’t really know what that means either. Just nod your head and play along.[/footnote] Our church was having a class for those who wished to teach in the future and I felt it was my duty to go. I didn’t know if I’d learn anything new, but I felt it was best to make an appearance.
How stupid and wrong I was.
Sitting in that class was the best thing that could have happened to me. I saw men around me who had been in the Bible for more years than I had been alive. These men had a depth of understanding and knowledge that I couldn’t even hold a candle to. I was the “weak” person that Paul talks about here. After about 15 minutes in the class I knew it. I was overwhelmed, devastated that I wasn’t nearly as awesome as I thought I was. Most of all, I was humbled. I realized that no matter how many degrees, jobs, or credentials you may have, there is always someone who knows more. There is always someone you can learn from. At that moment, that’s what I decided to do. I decided to stop talking, stop listening to my own hubris, and start learning again.
I’ve heard people talk about how they want to be in a class with the “mature” believers like them. God help me if I say that again. I want to be in an environment where I can learn from someone else at the same time I’m able to teach someone who isn’t as far along the path as I am. As Paul says, we should work to please our fellow Christians in order to build them up. Instead of looking down on them because they don’t have the same understanding that we do, we need to lend them a hand (or an ear, or a dollar, or a meal, etc.).
We who are the body of Christ should be looking to develop the next generation of Christians who will be taking our place in the culture. Instead of holding on to our temporary things we should be exalting the immutable truths of God. We should leave no one behind. We were all new to this at some point.