As a jazz loving twenty something, I had an experience that has stuck with me all these years.
You know how some things just do that?
And years later, they yield unexpected insights -
I loved jazz
Specially stripped down, small band, bluesy jazz -
I wasn't in the least knowledgeable about it though -
I just loved the music and loved the way it made me feel.
So, one night I had an encounter with a jazz "expert" at a party.
His opening gambit?
"Do you prefer East Coast or West Coast?"
I remember the scornful look he gave me when I didn't know what he was talking about.
And how he talked down to me, displaying his knowledge of the subject for the little time he could be bothered
I remember how I felt that night.
Here are things that I now realise:
He didn't love the music -
This guy didn't even listen to it: he talked right over it just to show me how much he knew.
The music didn't seem to bring him joy
We couldn't share in the music together: it had become divisive instead of bonding.
What had no doubt started off as a passion for him had become a 'display cabinet' for his expertise.
I've seen similar things since, with art, wines, travel, even scenery, all sorts of things, where knowledge about the subject becomes the pleasure source; not the thing itself any more.
The thing that scares me most is that I could have done this with my faith in Christ.
In those early years, having accumulated a little knowledge (which I thought was a lot!) its possible I did exactly that: paraded my knowledge of things spiritual, talked down to people, leaving them embarrassed and turned off.
It is still possible to do it today, all unwittingly.
Perhaps even more so, after many more years of Christ-following. . .
I can see more the wisdom of the word: "If anyone thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." *
Funny how a thing in the bible can seem so odd until you've had an experience which opens it up, and you go:
"Ohhhhh! Now I get it!"
It wraps it up nicely this way:
"We know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up but love edifies." *
If that jazz guy had met me where I was, had said "Isn't this jazz great!! Don't you love it?!" and danced with me, or just sat listening to it with me, who knows . . . ?
If the conversation turns to spiritual things with someone who is still looking for truth, oh Lord, let me remember these things . . .
Someone once said "People can't hear you if you talk down to them."
I think that is true.
* 2 Corinthians 8: 1 + 2