There are many things about the Christian life that are a mystery to me. One of the things that is a mystery and that chaffs my spirit is when a Christian begins to get something and then goes militant against his former ilk. You know what I mean; they begin to understand something theologically profound and impacting and then they are ready to shred anyone of their former friends because they do not get it. Often times the refrain, “I can’t believe they don’t get this. Are they blind?!”
A friend of mine has likened this to the ex-chain smoker who now can’t stand people who smoke. The guy used to suck down cigs like slurpies but now he is free from that vice and everyone else is suddenly an idiot.
This happens a lot with Calvinists. We begin to understand (notice–begin) the doctrines of grace and we have little patience for those foolish Arminians. Why is it that we can hold to a system that emphasizes the soveriegnty and grace of God at such a premium, but at the same time we are ready to mow down anybody who does not sign off their email with Soli Deo Gloria (which I do by the way–because I mean it and want to be safe). After all, isn’t the understanding we experience as Christians a result of God’s grace? Or does this just come as a result of our superior smarts?
We see it with people who were trapped in legalistic thinking as well. Now they are free in grace. But only if this freedom involves loading, unloading, and mercilessly reloading on all who may not be as mature in the gospel as they are.
Perhaps it would be helpful to remember that we are never glorified this side of heaven. We still have miles to go before we stand in that ‘to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4.14). And furthermore, anything that we have learned we should praise God for and not pound our chests for. Remember Paul. He did not go ‘ex chain smoker’ on everyone when he contended for the gospel. He was actually loving, charitable, and gracious. This he did without compromising biblical fidelity and a burden for people.
Maybe we need to read and remember his words to the inverted, gospel-marginalizing church of Corinth:
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Cor. 4.6-7)