Smart and Ignorant All at the Same Time

Over the years I have met scores of Christians who are committed to the Christian faith and want to do all they can to promote the kingdom of God. These are people from all walks of life who are very intelligent. In fact, most of them are experts in their fields. Briefly, I want to introduce you to several of them (though I have changed their names and some personal details in order to protect the guilty). I could have listed dozens more, but this will give you the idea.

  • Bill owns his own construction business. He joined the military right out of high school and learned the basics of the business during the six years he served. He knows how to calculate the materials he needs for a project, build buildings, handle the books, hire and manage employees and deal with the IRS, among other important skills necessary to run his business.
  • Rosemary is a mortgage broker. She is an expert in her local housing market, is very effective in recruiting and working with customers, is brilliant at computing all of the calculations necessary to write a mortgage, can wrangle all of the paperwork involved in dealing with local, state and federal agencies, and she makes a mean cup of coffee.
  • Roger works for the state as a bureau chief. He is very proficient in understanding the laws he is charged to uphold and he knows how to brief state legislators and help them understand the implications of laws they want to pass. He also manages five divisions and is responsible for overseeing over 700 employees.
  • Micha owns a daycare center. She has her bachelors degree in child development and a graduate degree in early childhood education. Her daycare cares for over 80 children and she employs 12 workers. She is responsible for everything from keeping on top of state and federal regulations, to payroll, to wrangling the federally mandated paperwork necessary to keep her business open. And, she is particularly good at working with the children’s parents to help them with their children.
  • Scott is a farmer with a high school education. He learned the farming business from his dad and took over the farm at age 25 when his dad passed away. He farms over 2500 acres and has three rotations of crops per year. To manage the farm, he has had to hire 10 employees. He has become an expert in the weather, crop management, pest control, marketing, and business management.
  • All of these people have various levels of formal education and all work in different professions. Some are white collar, some are blue collar. In spite of the significant differences, all of them are very intelligent. Interestingly, though, most would not consider themselves all that smart. They think of themselves as just average people. But when you look at the responsibilities they hold, they have to be smart or they couldn’t do their jobs.

Here is another interesting thing about each of them. They are all active Christians and are very faithful in church – most of them for many years. But that is not the most interesting part. The real kicker is that none of them consider themselves to be that proficient in their faith. They all do serve in their churches – some teach Sunday school, some serve on various committees, some are deacons, but they still don’t consider themselves that proficient in their faith.

Most will gladly invite someone to church , but not a one of them knows how to actually sit down with someone and tell them how to invite Christ into their lives. Most will try to stand up to someone who is bad mouthing their faith, but not a one of them knows how to give a defense of the gospel in a way that actually answers the questions that the critic puts forth. Most will pray in their Sunday school class, but not a one can systematically explain to someone else the personhood characteristics of God. All of them do some service in the church, but not a one of them has a sense that their service is because they have been actually called by God into Christian ministry.

Unfortunately, these acquaintances of mine are the rule rather than the exception when it comes to a knowledge of their faith. And here is what all of this tells me. These are all extremely smart people, but they are all very ignorant Christians. This is not meant in a mean or derogatory way. Every one of them are the salt of the earth. And besides that, it is impossible for anyone to know everything about every topic. We all have our specialties. It is just that they are not proficient when it comes to their faith. And here is the problem with this – it is totally unnecessary for them to be in that position. Even more than that, it is specifically God’s will that they not be ignorant about their faith.

There was a time in our nation’s history when virtually everyone was smart in their jobs and smart in their faith. But for some reason, those days have mostly passed. In our modern times, those who don’t do church work professionally look to the “professionals” to do the spiritual work of the church while they, as “lay persons,” just support the professionals. If that doesn’t change, our churches are doomed. We will see the death of churches in America just as it has happened in Europe.

It was never God’s intention that the religion “professionals” take the lead in doing the work of ministry. The apostle Paul lays out very clearly the way it is supposed to work. In Ephesians 4:11 – 13 he writes, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is very clear that the work of ministry belongs to the “lay person” while the job of preparing the people to serve is the job of the “professional.”

As such, every Christian should be working as diligently as possible to educate themselves to become proficient in their faith. In fact, the Bible teaches that our primary purpose in this world is to accomplish the work of the kingdom of God. The other parts of our lives (work, family, community activity, etc.) are to be platforms for our primary service. What we see today is exactly the opposite of God’s intention. It may seem a bit odd to some, but truly we should be educated in our faith even above and before being educated in the other arenas of our lives.

It is my firm belief that almost every Christian alive is a very smart person in the areas of life where they put a priority. In your own case, you are probably very good at your job, working with your family, and doing the hobbies that have caught your interest. And no matter what your current status, if you decide to focus on your faith, you could become just as smart in that arena as you are in your secular life. I want to encourage you to make your faith a higher priority than it currently is. You should become as competent in the basics of the Christian faith as you are in any other arena. This is not an unreasonable goal. God has called you to be a minister of the Gospel in the arena of life he has place you in. Let me encourage you to grab your calling and become smart in your faith.

© 2010 Freddy Davis