Monday, June 15, 2015

Dealing with Blind Spots

Last month, Bob Heyton at Fundamentally Reformed mentioned a new book from Crossway entitled Blind Spots.  The intriguing part of his post was the ten-question quiz designed to identify in which of three basic categories one falls (courageous, compassionate, or commissioned) and its natural blind spot.  These quizzes often times use answers that do not apply, leaving one wishing for “None of the above,” but in order to get reasonable results, they give the most likely responses and ask for the reader to pick the closest one (think Family Feud).  Consider the first question in the quiz:

  • Which book is most likely to make your reading list?
  • A.  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  • B.  The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  • C.  Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Alas, there was no choice that interested me.  Since none was available, The Hiding Place seemed the most likely.  After this initial bump in the road, the remainder was easier, though the questions would be problematic for those with other theological or philosophical inclinations.

Certainly, these quizzes can be “gamed” so that the outcome becomes what one deems, however I decided to play things straight and see what happened.  Not unexpectedly, the result showed that I was “courageous.”  According to the book author, the courageous person is steadfast for truth, having a passion to study “Bible, church history, and theology so you can know and defend the teaching of Christ.”  Guilty as charged.

With every strength, there is a blind spot or failing.  We are sinners after all, and none of us is thoroughly balanced in every respect, though we might look forward to that in the resurrection.  The courageous person has a propensity to be combative.

Who does the author think he is?  Jerk.
I’m not being obstinate, and anybody that says so is looking for a fight.
I’m out of here!

There is also a temptation to be a “lone ranger,” but that removes the voice of biblical perspective through education and experience from the discussion, which is the opposite outcome of what is needed.  The knowledgeable person has come to his or her level of understanding through diligent effort over several years time.  Other believers will not have apprehended the same insights, though they may be of the same chronological age.  They will not gain your perspective by osmosis.  The same effort to acquire that level of knowledge and understanding must be spent on instructing others.

There is a useful question to raise here: What if the person or group I try to instruct does not listen but continues in their faulty understanding of Christianity?  That is a real concern and needs to be addressed carefully. First, ask yourself some questions:

  • • Are you missing something in your own knowledge set?  There is a reasonable possibility that you are ignorant in some area.
  • • Are people not heeding, or do they instead need time to assimilate the instruction?
  • • Is another person giving some conflicting teaching?
Be honest and fair with this inquiry, after all, you may be the problem.  Or perhaps I should say—learn how much of the problem you are.

After gaining relevant input, determine who needs to be flogged into submission or eliminated altogether.
The issue of pride

The quiz results also state that the “courageous” person has a propensity for pride.  On the one hand I say, “No duh.”  I realize my inclination to be correct and win the argument at all cost.  I can deliver a “slam dunk” for the win without caring for the individual—and have done so in the past (no brag, just fact).  The temptation is strong to apply the winning blow without regard for the opponent so that the argument presented might be adequately vanquished once for all.  While bad teaching and understanding must be corrected, believers are to be winsome and patient in their approach:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col 4:6)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus … reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim 4:1-2)

Yes, there are situations that require a harsh response (Tit 1:13), but we are discern how best to deal with the problem and move forward from there.  Do not bring in a bulldozer when a properly used spade will take care of the problem and do less overall damage.
Returning to the temptation for pride, why is this personality type singled out for pride?  Believers who are more missions-minded can be proud of their evangelistic fervor, and those more compassionate in their works of help and mercy can be proud of their service to those in need.  Pride is not the sole possession of one type of individual.

I understand and respect the author’s desire to address these relational aspects of the local assembly.  These blind spots can disease and cause division if allowed to fester.  As the body of Christ, we are each gifted in special ways for the building up of the body in love:
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Pro 10:12)
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Pet 4:8)
May we desire to see our Lord Jesus exalted as He works in and through us, both to one another and to the world.

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