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I’ve learned over the years—both from my own experience early on and because of emails I’ve received asking for advice—that there’s a great temptation to get frustrated with the people in your church as you learn theology and apologetics. There’s a temptation to look down on them with a scornful attitude of “they should know what I know!”

This is a spiritually dangerous misunderstanding of how the body of Christ was created to function. It’s not by accident that the people in your church don’t know what you know, it’s by Christ’s design, who has given us all different gifts "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

I came across a passage in Life in the Father’s House that sums up the situation well:

If you understand that any ability you have comes from a gracious God and that anything good you accomplish happens through His power alone, then you will less likely become arrogant as a result of your skills or successes. You will also be less condescending and critical toward others who have different gifts than your own, because you will remember that God Himself has organized the body according to His perfect plan, “just as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11). If you are unhappy with some of the constituency of your local church and wish that they were more like you, then your problem is ultimately with God, who put them there and made them the way they are.

And now comes the crucial point:

Rather than complaining about their weaknesses, you should eagerly seek to use your gifts for their benefit and humbly receive the ministry God has designed for them to have in your life.

You’ve been given your gift for the sake of those who don’t have that gift, and their lack of that gift is a result of God’s design, not their failure. Their weakness is your opportunity for joyful service, just as your weakness (whatever it might be) is theirs. It doesn’t make sense to despise people in your church for lacking the very thing you were placed there to give them.

Your gift of theological and apologetic aptitude and knowledge is not the only important gift. (“If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?”) It’s given to you so you can get down in the trenches below the people you’re trying to help and lift them up, not so you can look down on them from above.

Your gift makes you a servant, not a master. Once I understood this, it changed everything.

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BlogPost | Apologetics, Miscellaneous, Theology
Aug 6, 2014
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