Smarty Pants

2:30 AM

There's such a thing as being too smart. Not that I have reached that point, but I've certainly seen it in others and I've definitely spent many frustrating moments wishing for that rare curse. That curse isn't, by the way, being so smart that everybody else looks stupid. Being too smart is not an opening of one's eyes to the blindness of the unwashed masses. Being too smart is a blindness in itself -- so cleverly blind, in fact, that it doesn't even give the poor victim a hint at how much danger he really is in.

A smart person simply happens to have sharp mental faculties. A too-smart person has the same, with one mutation: they're tinted with pride. It's an entire personality of sarcasm, conceit, indifference and elitism. Talking with a smart person, you feel smarter. Talking with a too-smart person, you feel like an idiot.

Smart people love ideas and thinking things through and asking questions and positing opinions. Too-smart people love ripping things apart and leaving their opponents in the ashes: they don't even bother with a fair debate, as they already know the outcome and simply cut the chase and get to the point -- your utter demise.

Too-smart people tend to congregate in elite groups, remaining unsullied from stupidity and ignorance. Smart people typically mingle with all sorts of ages and stages. Too-smart people are conscious of their smarts. Smart people aren't. (That's why they're smart.)

The most dangerous thing about being too-smart, however, is that it completely ignores the plain and simple truths. They get bogged down in ridiculous hypotheses and new movements and strange ideas -- anything to escape common sense. This they call "enlightenment," but really, it's the greatest form of ignorance. When ignorance gets smart, bad things happen. Ridiculous things -- like the unwashed masses pulling an emperor-has-no-clothes on the elites.

I want to be smart enough to not fall for a lie and not smart enough to invent the lie myself.

Unfortunately for me, I have tendencies toward being too-smart without the actual faculties or composure or quick wit. I'm doubly the fool. It's awful. Even I'm simpleminded enough to see that. In any case, I fell for the smart lie that smart people don't do simple. I spent the majority of my school years pushing myself to study the smart stuff -- Beowulf and theology and economics. Theology especially. (I think my mother dreaded when I looked up from my tome and said, "You know, Mom....")

This created problems. We live in a small town with simple folk who didn't know what supralapsarianism is right off the bat. We attend a church of plain, fundamental Baptists who understand that Jesus saves and the world is bad and are content to stick with that. They didn't understand basic terminology: I got laughed out of town when I asked a visiting preacher whether he did topical or expository preaching. (The preacher, I'll have you know, later congratulated me on my weirdness and recommended I learn Greek.)

I wasn't growing. I heard basic Bible teaching. I sat under normal Sunday school teachers and Bible college students. I was starved for a heated debate on something important -- something deep -- something theological -- something that included the parsing of a Greek verb. What was wrong with everybody?

I don't know when it dawned on me or when conviction pinched hard, but somewhere along the line, I looked in the soul mirror and was horrified to find this smart person twisted up in pride and rank ignorance. I had been so concerned over correct wording and perfect theology that I had missed the greater commandments of loving God, loving others, dying to self and humbly submitting. I had puffed myself up with theological air while the simple believers around me were filled with the Spirit -- wanting to know basic truth and share it with others. Wanting to know God. Wanting to please Him. Wanting to walk worthy of His name.

How much I missed on my island of elitism, I don't know -- but I don't want to miss any more. Jesus said that little children understand God and the Gospel better (maybe because they can't pronounce supralapsarianism). It is the meek who inherit the earth -- not the smart. It takes not merely an intelligent but a wise person to understand that the hardest truths to grasp are the ones that are the simplest.

And since I want to be smart, I'm going to listen to the simple. Humbly. Whether they know about supralapsarianism or not.

You Might Also Like

5 impressions

  1. What does supralapsarianism mean, anyhow?

    Good post. I don't struggle with needing to debate so much, but I do struggle with the temptation to self-analyze all the time. Different things, but they lead to the same problem: an inability to focus on the simple things like God loves me and gives me the ability to love Him. I'm learning this lesson the hard way.

    While self-analyzation is important to perform some of the time, I'm tempted to always be analyzing myself, to the point where I'm completely bogged down over my sin and have all my joy sapped out of me.

    Last night, I realized that I was so afraid of sinning by being careless that I was neglecting to live a free and unafraid life. That is so obviously not what God wants for me! He didn't save me for that. So, I'm starting to see that I need to stop moving through life so scared that I feel like I need to always be analyzing every twist and turn of my mind and motive, to the extent that I'm afraid to pick up a book or do anything without wondering if it's "godly" enough or if I'm sinning by not going and doing something "spiritual" instead.

    Long story, but such a short answer. I'm kind of afraid to live such a free life. I'm afraid that I'll accidentally trip over the boundaries and become careless. But free is the only place to find joy and I have to trust that my Father will keep me from sin. This is something that He wants.

    Sorry for such a long comment. I had to tell somebody and since my Daddy's busy at work, you get to be the person to hear my rambling.

  2. Supralapsarianiam || super fancy term for five-point Calvinist understanding of election

    Melody, you have such a beautiful heart -- definitely the Spirit's work. Read Romans 8. It tells of the life in the Spirit and how we can walk free and live...just like you want. It refocused me during a painful period of hyper-self-analysis. Thank you for sharing -- I love fellow ramblers!

  3. My struggle has been a lot of times in focusing on the nitty-gritty theological stuff (though, I must say, I didn't even know such a word as supralapsarianiam existed, to be honest), instead of the fundamental, simplest truths. I'm trying to learn to let my walk with God not be a theological walk where it's all about insignificant (in comparison to the fundamental truths) doctrines, but a walk of humbleness and childlike innocence and truth. Make sense? [:

  4. The supralapsarianism bit reminded me of a Calvin Trillin excerpt I read for English:

    "I've worked hard to forget the longest word in the English language, which I had to learn for a high school club. Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It isn't a word that's easy to work into conversations. There are only so many times you can say, "Speaking of diseases usually contracted through the inhalation of quartz dust ...""

    Aside, I love the honesty of this post. The flashy lure of smart often overshadows the quiet beauty of wise. Simply recognizing the need to walk away from "smart" is, in itself, a form of wisdom. Thank you :o)

  5. *sigh* - you got me. I was on that elite island as well. And I was rescued by a group of awesome friends that love simply yet deeply.

    God also gives me opportunities to be with people that don't agree with me on certain points, yet love Jesus and myself madly. I think he puts them there on purpose- because I can't seem to stop running into them and becoming their best friends!


Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)