“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
English preacher of 19th century 1834-1892
I think that one of the most important lessons that I have learned as of late, is this. That as Christians, or as any people really, we belong to a historical community, and are not simply lone rangers reinventing the wheel at every corner. I think that is a true statement, though the daily reality of it is not so true. I think that most of the time we fail to remember our community and its historical roots, and we go about as lone rangers doing things our way, never learning from the past or present. I see this no greater place than as I see it in ministry.
I belong, and am employed by a PCUSA church. There is history. There are roots. There is community that extends beyond what I tangibly see everyday. It is a force that grounds us, sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in ways that cause struggle. Either way, I realize I am not my own. I belong to something.
But recently I have come to see how often we as Christians forget these roots, forget the communities that came before us, and we try to do things in a new way, thinking that old must not work, and that new must be better. I think this is particularly one of the sins of us in ministry at times. We think that ministry is about us. We think that is about what we can provide. It is about the knowledge we have to offer, and the gifts we can use to dazzle people with. We move out of the community then as lone rangers, reinventing the wheel, and not learning from history or our mistakes.
We live in a culture that values newness, and innovation, and rarely is anything around too long in LA, and often that mentality seeps into our church and spiritual life as well. I’m 30 years old and am young enough to think that I have all the answers, and may know something more than those older than me. But that is a lie, and when I think this way, I have truly failed to walk in humility in the community that I am a part of, or the community that has paved the way for me. Whether that be the 1st century community of Christians, or the Reformers, or the Presbyterians, or Evangelicals, or Bel Air itself. And someday when I get older there will be some younger kid who thinks that he or she has all the answers as well.
As a reminder of our history, I give you this great article and reflection on the life of Charles H. Spurgeon, truly one of the great preachers and Christians who ever lived. This article, and his life was a reminder to me that I have inherited a rich heritage from those who came before me, and it is my duty to be thankful of this heritage, to walk humbly in it, and to remember that I am not my own.