Thursday, October 20, 2011

Go For It! Show Your Ignorance!

One of my all time favorite T.V. programs is the comedy, Little Rascals! Based upon real life, the majority of the children were poor and the gang was often at odds with snobbish "rich kids" and overbearing adults. The Church can learn a great deal from the adventures that Our Gang faced and how Spanky and Friends responded to their “adversaries.”

Stymie was “a slick-tongued con-artist who was always self-assured, nonchalant, and ready with a sly comment as well as clever ideas to solve the problems he faced.” In Bargain Day, Stymie and Wheezer decided that they would be door-to-door salesmen. Prior to hitting the streets, Wheezer warns Stymie, “Now listen, dumbbell; when somebody comes to the door, don't you show your ignorance!” With a sly smile, Stymie replies, “Uh-uhhh, brutha; I ain't gonna show my ignorance to noooo-body!” Stymie and Wheezer eventually end up at the house of a rich but lonely girl, Shirley. The conversation goes something like this:

Shirley: What's your name?
Stymie: My name is Styyyyyyymie.
Shirley: Oh; your daddy's our chauffeur.
Stymie: Nuh-uh; my daddy ain't no chauffeur! My daddy's just a crap-shootiiiin' fool!

Professing believers in Jesus often get nervous when others ask questions about faith and the Bible. Sadly, in all our efforts to not “show our ignorance,” like Stymie, we make a worse impression in our attempts to prove that we have the “right” answers. And, like Wheezer, we tend to stifle those who might blow the pretense that “true” children of God have it all figured out.

I know that I don’t have all the answers; consequently I don’t leave many things unquestioned. Yet, I’ve discovered that others often get real fidgety when I question the status quo in the Church. Sometimes, they even get downright aggressive! It took me a long time to understand why my questions stir such a fuss. I’ve come to understand that asking questions tends to interfere with the comfort zones of those who:

1) believe that they have it all figured out. While they might give lip service to not having all the right answers, in reality they often fear that their “sales pitch” will be ruined if their fa├žade is exposed.
2) are afraid that what they’ve always believed and trusted in may be unfounded. I know a number of people who willingly admit that they are afraid to ask questions because they know that if the answer to the first one is baseless, all else will come crumbling down around it and “that’s just too scary!”

I understand the fear. I’ve been there. And, I’ve discovered that a spirit of questioning and investigation is rarely appreciated and, sadly, too often squelched or thrust out. Who wants that! Yet, I came to a place where I was confronting this reality; if the Product whom I say that I believe in and have been trying to “sell” to others can’t stand on His own, I’d better start looking for a new “Product”! I came to realize that while we must “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15), the answers that I’d always given weren’t working for me any more!

Yes, questions can feel like a very dangerous thing. However, there is freedom for us and others when we are being authentic. Not only do we not have to fumble all over ourselves and others in an effort to hide our ignorance, others are much more comfortable around us if we sincerely admit that we are just as ignorant as the next guy about many things! We must realize that, no less than Spanky and friends, our adversaries are not flesh and blood, rather the spirits of this world, especially pride. We must ask Father to show us our true hearts, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?” Or… am I not Christ’s servant because I’m still trying to please men (Galatians 1:10)?

The Bereans earned their favorable reputation of loyalty because they “received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” Because of their noble approach, many others came to the knowledge of the truth and were saved (Acts 17:10-12). “Bereans” love truth so much that they are willing to investigate Scripture to determine what is truly accurate. “Bereans” do not automatically hold to traditions that have been taught nor are they swayed by public opinion. “Bereans” are not afraid to question their presuppositions to receive understanding in light of truth. “Bereans” are willing to change when they’ve been convicted that their views vary from the Truth. In essence, “Bereans” are not afraid to have their ignorance of God’s Word exposed! I admire this approach so much that we named our border collie, “Berea!”

Through the years it hasn’t been uncommon for my son, Jake or I to occasionally look at the other and jokingly say, “I ain't gonna show my ignorance to noooo-body!” However, with all sincerity, I’ve encouraged him as I’m encouraging you. Go for it! Show your ignorance! Ask the questions! Truth has no fear of investigation! Sincerely searching for the whole-hearted life leaves no option!


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