The Loneliness of Being a Know-It-All
Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. Acts 15:2
Some of the most bitter disagreements I’ve ever had, have been with other Christians. These disputes are occasionally over trivial things, but at other times, I’ve argued over issues that are central to my faith and recovery. The more important the issue is to my life, the more antagonistic I become. I know I’m right and so, I can be downright hostile, making an enemy out of anyone who disagrees with me.
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians (me included) working in addiction don’t handle conflict well. We’ve been addicted ourselves and sometimes we’re not very mature. When someone argues with us, we know that they’re wrong and that we’re right because we’re on God’s side. Anyone who disagrees with us isn’t just against us then, they’re opposing God. Instead of sitting down like grownups or appealing to someone wiser, we simply cut ties. I won’t associate with someone like that.
There may be times when we have unsolvable differences that truly are important. We will sometimes need to part ways. The problem with always needing to be right though, is that eventually, we’re going to disagree a little bit with absolutely everyone. Ultimately, being a know-it-all will become a very lonely place as we have no one left standing with us.
Today’s passage tells the story of a conflict and its mature resolution in the early church. Under Jewish law, males were to be circumcised. When gentiles began following Christ, some Jewish Christians demanded that they too, undergo circumcision. Paul and Barnabas disagreed, and a debate ensued. Instead of simply parting ways, they took the issue to what came to be known as the Council of Jerusalem, appealing to the wisdom of the apostles and elders. The issue was central to Paul and Barnabas’s work, so they couldn’t just let it go. Neither though, did they just stomp off and create division. Maturely, they argued their point and appealed to the wisdom of a higher authority. In the end, the matter was decided the right way.
Being a prideful know-it-all always create division and fails to serve the cause of Christ. Sometimes disagreement and division is unavoidable, but often, as followers of Christ, we must embrace humility and resolve conflict like the grown-ups in today’s passage.