Wow, I’m in a bad mood. Stayed up till 2:10 AM before I
succumbed to sleep only to be awakened at 2:35 by my wife asking if I
was going to go up to bed. I would normally have had my daughter
down in the crib by 12:30 to 1:20 or so, but we’re at my in-laws and
the bedroom is up about two flights of stairs. The girl wakes up at the
slightest sense of transference from human arms so by 2:00 she was
still fussy. Be that as it may, she finally did go into the crib, but
then the next hours were loaded with fitful sleep as my wife spent the
rest of the night leaving the room dry heaving.
If anyone should be in a bad mood, it should be her. At 7 years old,
after being accused by (bad) doctors that she was making herself
regurgitate she was finally diagnosed by Johns Hopkins with having
gastrointestinal issues and severe motility problems. With weight
plummeting and things looking grim, that 7 year old had several
operations, one of which insured that she would be able to eat food
without ever being able to regurgitate again. Over the years she has
struggled with different foods that would ignite her stomach acids in
protest bringing those fits of regurgitation without bringing up food.
This is painful to say the least and no doubt the intense fires that
molded her high threshold for pain—although what molded her dealing
with the “fact of pain” is completely different.
There she sits. Actually smiling, hasn’t slept more than an hour
last night and taking care of my daughter while I sit and type in a
black funk. Say it: “men are babies”.
What molds us? What makes us change? I look at my friend MCF and
hear his stories of abuse at the hands of other people and am amazed
when he doesn’t realize how his social perceptions are directly
attributed to that. Perceptions…we all have them and don’t notice we’re
looking through them.
A short time ago my family and I were invited to go to a picnic that
was also a surprise birthday party for the host. A time of food and
enjoyment culminated in the guests sitting around a table while
laughing. In my mind thoughts of “this is how the Lord’s Supper at
church should be” bounced around my head until one of the youths
stopped everything to have everyone say good things about the host. It
creeped me out when people solemnly got up and spoke because it had
become a “Lord’s Supper” for a man. Here they were praising the man as
if he had accomplished what the Holy Spirit was already doing. I bit my
tongue within the group only sharing how I felt with my wife, but here
was a situation where my own perceptions were directly influenced by my
own private studies.
I was talking to Brother Russ via e-mail and he illustrated how the
new school of Christian thought ‘does theology’ vs. the establishment.
Russ was saying that the new school is like Linux and the old school is
like Windows: two different operating systems with similar words that
mean completely different things in context of their own systems.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the language
isn’t so much about different operating systems but different
approaches to the same computer that everyone is trying to figure out
the OS. The only one who fully understands the Operating System (to
continue using the common/vulgar analogy) is God. He designed the whole
thing and knows every in and out fully. The ones constantly picking up
the instructions and re-reading, relying on the Helper to instruct are
believers. We each start to follow a train of instruction and we grip
onto it and it skews our perception of the whole system. But how
important is our studying the operating system and understanding hor
our perception works if we don’t use the computer?
When Brother Doug
and I have had discussions via email he has said that when we get to
heaven we’ll find out how far off all of our theologies fell short of
the reality. Calvinist, not sure of his eschatological mindset although
he may eventually skew Covenantal and he’s outright honest about this,
praise God. He constantly reiterates…how does it affect us?
Brother Mike, dispensationalist who defines himself as a modified
Calvinist (with 2 of 5 points changed and his other points needing
further review) is honest about his leanings throughout his site and
has often stated that God could teach him by whatever means. Very
honest approach and one that I applaud although it strikes me as odd
when he gets into a discussion like the one with his veterinarian friend and his current commentor.
Basically the gyst of the conversation is that just as you rely on a
lawyer’s perception of the law more than you do Common Joe you should
rely on a theologian’s perception of theology more than you do Common
Christian Joe. His point has some merit when the theologian spends all
his time studying the word while Common Christian Joe studies on his
down-time as a hobby—but his point is horrid if Theologian spends his
time in study and never affected in his life and character and Common
Christian Joe is one who is constantly being changed in heart and
attitude and mind.
I’ve said it often enough and I keep hitting myself with this: It’s
not how much you know. It’s not how much you can explain to others.
It’s not even your assessment that you’re a good exegete (something
that I see thirty year olds graduates saying about themselves much too
often). I’ve been around theologians who have had no problem cursing up
a storm and slamming down some beers. I’ve been around seminarians that
embraced pride as a way of life. Conversely, I know a brother who
preaches the gospel to children at night and in prisons during the
day—studying at the five a.m hour and I’ve seen God use them greatly.
Whose words carry more weight? Whose words should carry more weight?
With the computer analogy you can take your studies from whoever knows
how to use the thing…even if they only know how to use it for hacking
government sites for downloading porn or for doing their taxes…but the
Holy Spirit isn’t like that. The Holy Spirit is not like learning Law
or becoming a veterinarian either. If the Light of the Life was not
affecting one’s actions then I steer clear!
Turn back to my wife. Constantly reading the word as a duty to her
children and home and yet not ignoring the time that she is mandated to
devote to them by locking leaving them to study. This woman reads and
she understands and she holds conversations with me and at the same
time her life exhibits the fruit of her studies and the growth in
character and the steadiness of heart. She would stay up hours and if
she were in a foul mood she would have every right to revel in it but
she does not as a duty to her family, as a model for her children and
as an encouragement to her husband beneath the Light of Life, which is
the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve seen her walk. I’ve seen her studies. When
I hear her words I take them into a deeper consideration (albeit with
pricked pride) than I would any long-term scholar and exegete whose
fruits I have not witnessed. That is not to say that I can’t taste
fruit in their writing, but I will always lean towards character over
You will know them by their—not gift but —fruit.