by Scott Yi
Everyone who agrees with me is smart, and anyone who disagrees with me is stupid.
In postmodern society, it’s fairly easy to hide our own arrogance. Under the guise of open-minded acceptance, we know what it’s like to play the game of tolerance. It’s not that hard to look like a 21st century non-judgmental model citizen in public—just don’t say anything that could sound offensive. But human pride, the deadliest of spiritual sins, festers underneath the charade of civility, and I’ve noticed that the way our pride finds release is when we impose our own superiority by labeling people different from us as “stupid.”
People who say things or do things that seem morally repugnant to us are considered to be intellectually inferior. That seems to be the way we judge others these days. We call people stupid all the time, especially when it comes to matters of public policy and worldviews. People who want to give rights to illegal immigrants are stupid; people who spend all day watching TV are stupid; people who believe in Roman Catholicism are stupid. Sound familiar? I know folks in each of those examples, and I would consider none of them to be individuals with low IQs or challenged mental capacities. But we say such things to assert our position and to feel confident about our identity—that’s pride.
On the other hand, yes, it’s true that people do and say stupid things all the time and that they should be reprimanded and given additional training in basic human decency. Can you believe that in our grocery store back home in Ohio, we still have regulars of the “good ole boy” variety that address their democratically elected president by a racial slur? Can you believe that there are still parts of the Bible Belt where congregations are taught the appropriate way of sharing one’s faith is by shouting at people that they’re going to hell? It bothers me that we’re well into the new millennium and callous ignorance hasn’t magically disappeared yet in this era of “progress.” I think we’re as lost as we’ve ever been, when public discourse is as toxic and unloving as it is today—and that’s from both sides of the commotion, whether conservative or liberal, churched or unchurched.
In His godly wisdom Jesus knew, what we say reveals who we are (Mark 7:14-23). I’m sure we can put on the “P.C.” mask for a good long while, and we can even make our criticism sound intelligent and laudable—but a heart full of condescension and pride will always spew forth venom, seeking to lash out against human fellowship upon the altar of self-worship.
Jesus is different. What do you think His opinion was of the masses, the uneducated non-elite, the ignorant freeloaders and the band-wagon followers? Take a look at Mark 6:34 – “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
If I take a moment to think about the people that annoy me, the “stupid” masses, it’s then that I realize how very far away I am in being anything like Jesus. It’s a very humbling revelation in my life. Anyone can critique from behind a keyboard or from behind a television camera—but who is willing to go out among “the sheep”? Who is willing to give of themselves so sacrificially? Who has the superhuman patience in our self-absorbed culture to “bear with the infirmities of the weak”? Who can forgive the people who have hurt us and disregarded us, forgiving them because “they know not what they do”? Who can love like that? Who has heroic courage like that?
It’s an amazing thing that God has compassion on us, regardless of how stupid we act sometimes. He loves us no matter what we do. So we can come to God with our stupid shortcomings, and we can talk to God honestly about all the “stupid” things—like the things that hurt us that we don’t tell anyone about. Like the mistakes we’re so embarrassed of. Like the things that make us feel lonely. We can come before God with every little thing that weighs down upon us, because it only makes Him care for us all the more.
We’re each one of us stupid. And what a wonderful thing that is.