Hello there, my name is Little Monk, and I am a Recovering Omniscient. “What’s an ‘Omniscient’?” you ask? That is “a person who suffers from the delusional belief that they know all there is to know, and that anyone with an opinion contrary to their view is clearly and utterly wrong!”. You see, once upon a time, I knew everything. As I have gotten older, it seems my command of “everything right in the universe” has eroded a bit… and I find life filled with more wonder at all the things I NEVER knew and am enjoying learning, rather than arrogance over my ignorance.
There is a great freedom and sense of “release” once one gives up Omniscience as a lifestyle. I mean, it’s really a tough gig… knowing everything… knowing when everyone else is “wrong”… knowing it is somehow your personal, God-ordained, DUTY to set everyone else right! What a burden!
I’m not entirely SURE when God released me from this task… like what was the date when He rewrote my Kingdom Job Description… but I know He did, and it wasn’t that long ago. I mean, it’s a wearying job… knowing EVERYTHING… and listening to so many people around us just be WRONG! I mean, really, right out there in front of God and Man and everybody… they just SAY STUFF! And I would have to wade in there and “set them straight”.
There should be a 12-Step Group…. “Omniscients Anonymous”. Haven’t found it yet. In the past I might have started one, but now I’d be concerned that to start one would just be another expression of “Lookit What *I* know”, so I’m happy enough to just sit here in the corner and share this with you.
The thing is, when you’re Omniscient… well, when *I* am, anyway, I’m constantly having to focus on my “Self”… on my very own mental encyclopedia of “all that I know”… constantly to judge everyone else’s ignorance and error. So there’s very little spare time, leisure time, to actually pay any attention to God Himself at all. No time to gaze upon Him in worship or praise, no unction to thank Him, certainly no need to LISTEN to him or learn anything more. Ah, me.
Somehow this little house of cards all came tumbling around my ears one morning over coffee with The Lord, as I was bringing Him my “prayer requests” (translate that: “Laundry List of Complaints about Everyone Else”), regarding teaching/preaching to all the “poor ignorant brethren” surrounding me in my little corner of the Kingdom. Have you ever seen the Lord’s face sort of darken and cloud up when you’ve “crossed the line” in attitude, and deep in yourself you start to hear the words… “I… have had… enough… of THIS!”? Not a happy moment. (For those who’d like to see the “scriptural expression” of this moment, feel free to check out Job 38:1-3. I’ve known more than a few of these moments across my life.)
Did you have a “finger pointing” parent? Or boss? Or teacher? Fill in the blank with any authority figure you’ve dealt with in your life. God SELDOM deals with me thus, but one morning… well, He did. You see, there’s this very VERY inconvenient section of scripture that I for one… and MOST of my colleagues or the churches I’ve lived among… really don’t like to deal with very often or very deeply. On THIS occasion? God chose to deal with this passage VERY intently, determined that I stop tarnishing His reputation and grace through my arrogance and attitude.
The passage is… *sigh*… Romans 14.
The Apostle Paul may not have been married and had kids, but he certainly has command of the “Paternal Tone” when he speaks to churches from time to time. Romans 14 is one of those places where, when convicted here, you can find yourself standing before him as he makes his instruction crystal clear, complete with admonishing finger points straight at your heart.
It seems I am not the only Christian in history who sensed a call to “Omniscience” and “correction of all errors of others”. It would seem I had at least a few brethren of spirit in Rome when Paul dealt with this. And it would further seem, that Paul clearly heard God’s utterence… “I have had enough of this!” and gave voice to three things: (1) what was wrong (very specific on what they were doing); (2) that that behavior was to STOP (in no uncertain terms); and (3) why that behavior was to stop (which he used to buffer and frame each of his “imperative” points).
I’m not about to analyze the chapter, but it boils down to: two (2) sharp “rebukes”; six (6) distinct and unmistakeable “orders”; and layers of explanation spread between and separating them, chockablock with illustration and revelation.
The rebukes are delivered in the “Form of a Question” at verses 4 and 10. I have a friend who has recently pointed out that sometimes, when Paul “asks a question” he is not looking for a response or an answer… he is simply “making a point”. (Remember when your parents asked these kinds of “questions”? Or perhaps you have done so yourself? “What’s so hard about cleaning your room?” “I’ve told you to take the trash out 3 times now, are you deaf?” These are not questions seeking an answer. They are simply making a point.)
The orders, the directives issued in fully authoritative tones, are at verses 1, 13, 15, 16, 20, and 22. Can’t you almost see that index finger wagging as he speaks these words? I won’t try to speak for you or for anybody else, but I can just tell you… as The Lord went over these words in MY face? There were not His “suggestions”… these were “orders”. Just in that fully Paternal Tone that says, “You will NOT do this anymore!”
As Paul does so well, he includes in the chapter the “Key Insight”… the “summary statement” that puts all this teaching into the context of Christ (not to mention countless illustrations and applications)… but he states clearly…
“For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love…” (Romans 14:15a.) And Paul says, “Why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10b)
That’s all pretty straight up, isn’t it?
So, the Lord’s bottom line to me on this rather confrontive morning was pretty straightforward. *I*, along with many other Christians who are “meat eaters”, enjoy the fullness and maturity of our freedom in Christ. (“I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself…” Romans 14:14a).
Now, that gives me both a choice and a responsibility. I can take that freedom and understanding, and flaunt my “superiority” and “maturity” with it before younger Believers or those yet growing in the faith, the “milk drinkers”. I can show contempt for them, and try to “force them into MY way of thinking”, pushing them beyond the boundaries of their own conscience and experience with the Holy Spirit. (Can be very “ego fulfilling” to think one can stand in the place of the Holy Spirit, or of conscience, in the life of “brother who is weak in faith”. But, oh… my… do we REALLY want to try to put on those shoes? Really? When we tread such holy ground in the heart of another we should take our shoes OFF entirely?)
Nope, certainly not where I want to posture MYSELF before the Lord of Hosts… thank you, very much! No, sir.
Instead, *I*, at least, am to recognize the sacredness and vulnerabilities of those yet learning the way. I must act with particular sensitivity and attention to the rules and directives the Lord is placing in THEIR lives, and attend to my own actions that I NOT cause them confusion or “premature advancement” into territory or actions not yet suitable for them.
In short, rather than being all arrogant and lording it over others with my own understanding and freedom, I am to be the MORE accountable and servant to them and their needs to mature and advance. I am here to edify, encourage, and enhance the development of the young or the immature… not seek their acclaim or their emulation beyond their own convictions.
‘Twas a tough morning, that. Still a work in progress I admit. But at least I’ve gotten the point, not only in my head, but in my heart. The point is not “who is right?” or “who is wrong?”. The point is “Who is God?” and “Where is the love?” Arrogance is just another form of bullying, intellectual or not. And, in Our Father’s House, in This Family, among These Brethren… the Father will NOT permit bullying of little ones, no matter how “right” an elder brother/sister thinks he/she is. He’ll warn us off a time or two, but then, warnings will cease and “behavior will be modified”.
Yup… my name is Little Monk… and I’m a Recovering Omniscient. Still assuredly a work in progress. Keep me in your prayers!