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Before or After


Issue 137

One of the things that we often find irritating  is someone who appears to know all. It is especially annoying in a boss or employer who behaves as if he or she has all the answers, but it is also infuriating in a colleague or a customer. It has the effect of dehumanising the individual because they find it difficult to apologise for their inevitable errors or seek help for their obvious inadequacies. Because they live in a world where they know everything already, they appear to have lost the capacity to learn and as a result become deeply unattractive. Everyone who encounters them knows it’s a lie and an illusion because no human knows all, but such is the blindness of some individuals that they persist in this arrogant attitude.

There is a terrible irony in the life of a Christian: to become a Christian you have to admit weakness, inadequacy and failure and seek the rescue of the cross. Yet after having found forgiveness and the power of God you can sometimes conclude that the search is over. The move from humility to arrogance can be subtle but real:Jesus is the answer and because he is all-sufficient we don’t need anyone else.

This attitude runs all the risks of creating a spiritual know-all and is deeply unattractive to the non-Christian because it appears to imply a belief  that the search is over, whereas it is a lie and an illusion, and simultaneously the source of great stress amongst non-Christians. It is a lie because a new search has now begun to answer the questions, ‘What has happened to me?’ ‘What does being a Christian mean?’ ‘Having found Christ, how should I live?’ and very Importantly, ‘How come some things still don’t make sense?’ and ‘How come I still struggle and fail and get it wrong?’

A person asking these questions is attractive. They are learning (a disciple), recognising in humility that while one search has found its desires, a new search has begun.

When Jesus told the stories of the treasure and the pearl, the finding of the great discovery took place at different stages in the life of the seeker. The treasure in the field was found by accident and re-buried while the seeker sold his possessions. The pearl was found by someone who had been searching all his life. Either way, they had to give up everything to possess the treasure. There is a difference between finding and possessing. Having found, a new set of challenges emerge.

This attitude will free you from the need to present a complete Christianity to your colleagues and will also free them from the tyranny of one who knows all the answers.


Matthew 13: 44-46

44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

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Series: -
Module: 5
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: arrogance, behaviour, humility, interdependence, journey, salvation, teachability

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Geoff Shattock

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