“I Already Know That!”

In my years of serving as a Christian mediator, I have been privileged to assist extraordinarily gifted men and women of great faith and world-class formal educations. In one such situation, I was sitting between two (very angry) co-senior pastors of a large suburban church. Both loved the Lord and loved their church—but their years of subtle maneuvering for the position of greatest power and influence over their members had brought about a terrible result. Their relationship was nonexistent. It had been months since they had even prayed with one another. And the church was crumbling beneath even these “gifted,” “brilliant” men.

“I already know that!”

One pastor responded to the most recent point made in our four hour stretch of meditating on Holy Scripture.

“I already know that!”

He flung at me and his opponent. Not with gratitude (“Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to see You and Your Truth in Your Word”), but as a weapon to attack, a wall to hide behind, a way to proclaim his superior knowledge of God’s Word and put any hope of reasoned discussion to an end.

“I know that. I know all of God’s Word better than you. So what? Let’s move on!”

But we could not move on. To merely give intellectual assent to something with no personal engagement or response of obedience is the rhetorical equivalent of saying, “Your Mama wears combat boots!” Nothing productive is gained. No one is helped. This pastor could claim to believe anything he wanted to—as long as it didn’t have to change him. And these biblical truths did not change him. He was unmoved. Unimpressed—by me as his mediator, by God’s inerrant Word. Despite multiple graduate degrees and years of pastoral experience, this man was immature:

“Spiritual maturity results from practicing truth in everyday life, not from knowing truth in one’s mind.” Paul Tripp (see also Hebrews 5:11-14)

The fruit of his immaturity was the destruction of his church. This pastor walked away from the mediation and he walked away from his church all in a rage. Hundreds of people followed his lead and broke their membership vows, abandoning deep friendships in the process. The name of Christ in this community was tarnished. No unity. No reconciliation. No bearing with one another in love. Instead, just a bad ending to a bad situation because one pastor poured all of his passion and commitment into one statement:

“I already know that!”

“Knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:10), “But love builds up.” There is a world of difference between mere head knowledge and the faith-filled, God-centered, application of that knowledge. True theological knowledge is defined by one word:

Love.

Love is the only thing that will apply knowledge so that truth becomes relevant to life:

“So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.” 1 Corinthians 8:12

But:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13

With wise and love-driven application of God’s truth to our everyday struggles and conflicts, we have the privilege and joy of loving our Father and his eternal children just as He has loved us:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love …” John 15:9-10

May God give us grace to redeem every conflict for His glory as our wisdom—our love—is on display (not merely our knowledge).

In the Lamb,
-Dave Edling (with Tara Barthel)

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About Dave Edling & Tara Barthel

We use this name whenever we co-author blog posts, or whenever one of us substantially edits the other's post. You can read our detailed bios on the "About Us" page of this blog: https://redeemingchurchconflicts.wordpress.com/dave-and-taras-bios/
This entry was posted in Authentic Relationships in the Church, Causes of Church Conflict, Conflicts involving church leaders, Conflicts with our youth pastor. Bookmark the permalink.

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