I saw a movie not long ago where my favorite quote was not unlike what I’ve been hearing in the church lately: “Off with his head!” shouted the Red Queen of Wonderland, “Off with his head!”
The loveless and enormously fat-headed queen, brilliantly played by Helena Bonham Carter in the recent iteration of “Alice In Wonderland,” wanted to know everything about everyone, and, in her own twisted wisdom, dealt precisely and brutally with all who failed her scrutiny. Wanting to placate her, the subjects of the realm attached to themselves their own versions of oversized features such as elongated ears, huge noses and bulbous posteriors, completing the look of a kingdom in agreement and submission to the fat-headed queen. The assembled court presented a fascinating and twisted parade.
Watching the movie, I wondered if I don’t unwittingly join a loveless and fat-headed parade as well. I’ll explain.
I have a long history of craving knowledge and insight, believing those qualities would be at the top of the gotta-have-it list for life. As I remember, grad school at USC was a seemingly endless immersion at the library, pouring through books and files and microfiche, interrupted only for fresh air and coffee. By necessity I learned how to research and found that knowledge was not only interesting, it provided protection against error as well. There’s a lot of value in that. Looking back, the fear of error became a big contributor to my desire for knowledge.
From those days to these, I’ve become a sort of glutton for knowledge that feeds insight so I can choose the best path, the right car, the proper foods, the most accurate and informative news sources, the correct candidate and the perfect position on anything and everything I should need to comment about.
But here’s what I’ve found: there is a knowledge and insight that renders the possessor as loveless as the fat-headed queen. It cripples its possessors by anointing them “Expert,” which, while making them feel good, comes with a heavy requirement: perfect judgments. Frankly, God has not set us up for that. Having become the crucified to this world, born from above new creation sons and daughters of God, we share now in the nature of our Father (2 Peter 1:3)—and that’s a nature of love. God is love (1 John 4:16); He doesn’t just have love or feel loving. God’s love never ebbs, it never is somewhere else, it never is too busy, and it never fails. He is love.
Love is in our DNA.
The Christian is set up for love—think about that—and the kind of knowledge and insight we’re to strive for is supposed to be the fuel of love.
The apostle Paul writes: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
What does God want for the Philippians and for us? Abounding love! You wouldn’t mind that would you? And what will happen then? We’ll be enabled to live—and live well.
What knowledge you’re going for today and what insight you’re getting is determining and will determine the abundance of love in your life. It is inescapable.
Think of it this way: God knows absolutely everything there is to know about you. Does that sound scary? But what’s your favorite thing about God? Isn’t it that He is always approaching you with love? It is! Look, God has the goods on you—He knows all your dirt. He knows your heart, reads your mind (and your email), sees your activity, and loves you perfectly! And He doesn’t turn away from you so He can’t see your bad behavior or witness your ugly attitude. Ooh! I can’t look—Ralph looks awful today! God is always looking at the facts—He has all knowledge and all insight. And He loves endlessly. The facts He’s looking at affect Him greatly—I would say that what He knows and sees kindles His love! When He looks at you, love bursts forth from Him because He knows the facts! He’s not pretending.
Do you get it?
He sees you in Christ, His regal son, His magnificent daughter, His chosen vessel of and for His glory. That’s what He knows, that’s His insight, and love pours forth from Him for you. It abounds.
Look. God knows all about Kim Jong-un and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He knows capitalism and socialism through and through, He knows there are differences between Nikon and Canon cameras, USC and FSU, corporate heads and government officials, and that there are benefits and risks to eating at McDonald’s. But so far, I’ve not heard a heavenly, “Off with their heads!” Have you? Why not? Because His love is never threatened. Something else fuels it—real knowledge and real insight. The facts.
Is that what you’re seeing when you look around?
If love is missing these days, then I suspect it’s because you’ve been looking at—maybe staring at—the wrong facts. If your recent history includes hot anger—lots of it!—at Obama, Bush, Palin, or Pelosi (American politicians), and you’re convinced that you’re RIGHT about that lousy SOB(!), if your blood pressure boils when thinking that some people actually believe global warming is real (or fake), that Obamacare is a good idea (or bad), that gays should be able to marry (or shouldn’t), that the Pac12 is the best division in college football (or it’s the worst), that Apple is better by far than Microsoft (or not), that the Denver Broncos are football’s best team (or worst), then I think you’ve likely fallen into the parade of the fat heads. Sorry! Check the size of your cranium. You’ve been too much about this world’s knowledge, and not only is love missing, but so is discernment and purity and confidence in Christ, just as the apostle Paul told the Philippians it would be.
You may not be shouting “Off with their heads!” but you’re not far away.
Get out of the parade. How? In faith that Love is waiting and available on the inside, turn off the television for a few days. It might not be easy. By faith don’t read the newspaper tomorrow or go to that newsy web site for a few days. Instead, talk to God. Ask Him what He knows about things visible and invisible. Ask Him what His heart is for you. Ask Him what it’s like for the people that your flesh has lately been railing against. What does He think about them? Open the book of Colossians, or put on some Steven Curtis Chapman or Tenth Avenue North. Take a walk. Get a great book. (Check my web site for recommendations at http://lifecourse.org/Recommends.html).
It won’t be long before you’ll begin preferring the knowledge and insight that fuels love on the inside—God’s love—and your appetite for that which makes you a worldly expert will diminish.
And you’ll be out of the parade of the fat heads.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Beware The Christian Fat Head Parade,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click on http://youtu.be/wY64xH1v6UU, or simply scroll down this page.)