To answer your first question, yes, the purpose of this entire column is to give me an excuse to use a Doobie Brothers song as the title. Why the Brothers Doob? Because in February of 1973 they charted with a cover of “Jesus is Just Alright” which would go on to form the basis of a raptastic remake by “Christian Star Search” winners DC Talk in 1992. So really, this is – no, not an homage – payback, because I care not a whit nor a whisker for either version as one is a travesty against classic rock and the other against pinch-rolled Bugle Boy jeans.
In all seriousness – or at least as much seriousness as is permitted in this column – I wish to profoundishly expound upon Proverbs 26:4-5 which states in verse 4, according to the New and Improved American Standard translation, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.” Do you grasp the import of this statement? If you, Mr. or Miss/Mrs./Ms. Defender of Righteousosity stoop the level of your garden-variety internet gnome and declare that God can indeed make a rock so big He can’t lift it because He made yo momma and she so fat ain’t nobody lifting her, well, you’ve managed to qualify for the full portion of pity allowed under the Mr. T. Act of 1986.
If we advance a verse (and verily, a real Advance-A-Verse would’ve made a killing in the 1940s) to Proverbs 26:5, we see Solomon’s admonition to “answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.” Which means, maybe, that we shouldn’t let the stupid spout off their stupidity unchecked lest the merely ignorant join their ranks. If Reddit is any indication, we collectively deserve an F in this department, mainly because we deserve an F- regarding verse four.
So we are faced with quite a conundrum (is there any other kind?): How do we bury the grotesque utterings of the hard-hearted haters populating this upper Hades under equal parts truth and grace? Probably by not referring to them as grotesque and threatening to bury them for starters, but you get my point.
First, knowing that something is true is not the same as knowing something. I hope that we all know, without firsthand experimentation, that the sun is hot. It’s like the Justin Timberlake of the solar system, amiright? But can you, off the top of your head, delve into an explanation of its internal fiery furnace where the joys of a fusion that is neither jazz- nor Asian cusine-based coalesce to start a chain reaction that eventually leads to sun spots and thus to your 2004-era RAZR dropping calls in that same place along the Tollway? I thought not. But you could if you studied astronomy and chemistry and physics read the Wikipedia page about the sun. Similarly, how can you expect yourself to answer questions ranging from annoying in their banality to alarming in their clarity when all you know is John 3:16? Sure, Jesus is the Truth, but answering “Christ the Lord” to every question doesn’t really cut it, as anyone who’s attempted to race through their BSF assignments can attest.
Second, knowledge may be power, but the power of God is more so. (It can even give you the power to understand that tortuous sentence structure.) There is a way of answering a query that seems right to a man, but its end often ends with “bounces off me and sticks to you” (II Proverbs 495:∞). We stuff our answers with pride and drizzle them with condescension before garnishing (to taste) with a sprig of moral superiority. Many passages that actually exist in the New Testament promise that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say to people when such circumstances arise. If we let Him. If we have studied His word so He can bring the appropriate passages back from where they’re tucked behind who won the American League MVP in 1980 (George Brett) and onto the tips of our tongues or typing finger(s). Then we can answer with force and truth and power and grace. Will we necessarily convince our opponent of the error their ways? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Maybe. But probably not. That is not our job. Our job is to proclaim the truth and let God work on the heart.
Some plant seeds. Some water. Some reap the harvest. Just don’t be the jackwagon who takes a Garden Weasel to the nascent sprout of truth in a misguided effort to “Biblify that hippie.” Because what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away. But the God who created you, me, that hippie and Michael MacDonald can turn any foolish heart back to Himself.
Jason Fox writes from Omaha, Nebraska, and does a mean Michael MacDonald/Peter Cetera/Aaron Neville/Dude from Fine Young Cannibals impersonation.
This piece originally appeared in Chatter Magazine and might be found here. But no promises.