Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Reformed Guys

 There’s a great message in the movie, “The Dark Knight,” and that is that sometimes in order to become a hero, you have to look like a villain. The Batman character in this movie does just that. He’s actually the hero, but the city needs him to be a villain, so that it can go on believing in the good ideals espoused by the once heroic, but now turned villain, Harvey Dent. Hence, he allows his reputation to be completely tarnished for the good of the people. I think this is consistent with what I spoke before concerning love.

Now, what does this have to do with Reformed guys? Well, I view the Reformed as the shepherds of the rest of the church. They are the most studied. They have the most experience in debating the finer points of theology with exegesis and logic. I think that they are the keepers of cognitive thought in Christianity, and as such, are the teachers of the more ignorant streams within American Christianity. Hence, the Reformed have an important job to do by “destroying speculations and every  lofty  thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).

Now, I realize that if you’re not Reformed, you may take offense at that; but I’ve run in almost all of the streams of American evangelicalism (as well as some outside of it), and can tell you that if there is exegesis to perform, the Reformed guy is going to do it better. If there is a theological argument to defend, the Reformed guy can defend it better. If there is an apologetic for the Christian faith, the Reformed guy can give the best one. This is just the concentration of the Reformed. It is the more cerebral side of Christianity. As such, you should make it a habit to listen to the Reformed when they correct you.

But there is a problem that may hinder you from doing so, and that is this: Reformed guys are jerks. All of them. Without exception. If someone is Reformed, he is a jerk. That’s just a matter of fact. If you know a Reformed guy, you know this is true. They’re the guys always arguing a point. They’re the guys who make sure you have all of your theological i’s dotted and t’s crossed. When everyone else may be happy for your new decision to marry the guy of your dreams, to go to a particular church, to read a particular book, the Reformed guy is there to give you reasons why you should or should not do it. Where others just pat you on the back and say, Go for it, the Reformed guy meets your ideas and decisions with a skeptical eye. He’s annoying. He’s intrusive. You just want to say to him, Get a life, Reformed Guy!

The thing is, however, that not all Reformed guys are jerks for the same reason. There are really two kinds of Reformed guys.

There are those who are jerks because, well, they’re jerks. They want to be right all the time. They have some sort of self loving need to prove themselves superior to others. Perhaps, they’re making up for someone calling them dumb when they were younger, or compensating for deficiencies in other aspects in life and now need to prove themselves as better than others. These guys are in competition for themselves, and they fight to win.

And there are those who are jerks, not because they need to prove something to themselves, but because they are honestly seeking to love the other person who needs truth to set them free and glorify God in their lives. In other words, they’re a jerk in their love of God and in service of you. They are dark knights. They know you’ll perceive them as jerks, and their intrusions into your personal religious experience in our culture classifies them correctly in it as jerks, but they are willing to become that so that God is exalted in your life and you are saved. If they can’t save you, their still going to be jerks in order to love and exalt God above your false ideas or sin. In other words, their jerkiness is due to love of God and neighbor, not self love and exaltation.

Now, here’s the thing. Both of the these guys look exactly the same. You won’t be able to tell which is which, because motives are held within a person. The person can try to tell you his motives, but he may only be masking a false motive, or not know it himself, and therefore, you may just not believe him. Hence, there is no way to tell the difference between what kind of jerk with whom you are interacting.

So here’s my advice: Listen to both of them. What they’re saying will likely cause you to think, glorify God, and save your life, even if their motives are off. In other words, you don’t need to know which is which, only that what is said is important for you to listen to. Let God sort them out. You listen to Christ through what they are saying, since He is your Lord, not the Reformed guy anyway. If the Reformed guy speaks His truth, and he most likely does, then listen to Christ’s truth, regardless of whether you like the messenger or not. But I do think you should know that some jerks love you, and have become jerks for your sake. Maybe that will help you understand something more profound about what is said if you realize this.

Finally, if you are a Reformed guy, let me give you this advice. We will be judged more harshly than others, since we have set ourselves in the roles of Christianity’s teachers. You better think deeply about your own motives, whether they are primarily in service to Christ and His people or to yourself? Do you just have something to prove, or are you seeking to prove Christ as right and point the way for His people to glorify Him? Be a jerk, but be a jerk out of love for Christ and others, not as a means to love yourself. Don’t analyze everything under the sun and fail to analyze yourself. To thine own self be true. This is something you need to do every time you speak to someone, as sin can creep up at any time and replace good motives with bad ones.

And for both the Reformed guy and to his audience, realize that you won’t be able to spot a person’s reasons so easily because, as many movies have recently reminded us, people aren’t easily categorized as good and evil, as though all of humanity was easily split down the middle. You can categorize all of unbelieving humanity as unredeemed evil, but if you are a Christian, you have both good and bad tendencies. You are two people. As such, you will not be able to simply make a one time judgment that this person is a jerk for such and such a reason and that person is a jerk for such and such a reason. Take it from me. I’m sometimes extremely concerned about the welfare of others and the glory of God, and other times I’m just annoyed by stupidity. My jerkiness then comes out because of my lack of patience toward what I don’t like. Sometimes I may just want to be right and prove myself to be the genius that everyone seems to be duped into believing that I am. My jerkiness then is just to exalt myself above others. But many times (and I’m pretty sure, most of the time) my jerkiness is because I love God and am genuinely concerned for the welfare of the people to whom I am speaking. I hope that the latter is more the case than the former two, and will continue to be so for the rest of my life, God willing.

For now, I’m writing this jerky post about how Reformed guys are more theologically astute than others within American Christianity, a truly jerky thing indeed; but I’m hoping that it binds you together with your not so friendly neighborhood Reformed guy, and gives you more of an understanding of why he or she is an important person in your life. He’s the logic to your emotion. He’s the Bible to your unbiblical thoughts. He’s the Slow Down, or even Stop, sign among a host of signs saying, Proceed without Caution. Either way, God has placed him or her within your life to love and save you, and it may in fact be that the Reformed guy loves you as well. So what is the downside of having him remain as a prominent voice in your head? Just the annoyance of having a dark knight around to save you from all the things that the “heroes” in your life will not.

We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, [even] until now. (1 Cor 4:13b)

1 comment:

  1. I am not reformed in the sense you are using the word. However, I am not offended. I've had this conversation with my friends in ministry and we all agree that the reformed guys know their stuff, so you had better be ready to "throw down" if you disagree with them. I have, however, learned much through my jerky reformed friends. They have challenged me to study harder, debate better, and remain teachable.