Saturday, February 26, 2011

More on Definition of an Expert

Someone hearing the title of this post rather than reading it could hear:

Moron: definition of an expert.

In my tree business, people will often respond to my question regarding their preferences: “Well, you are the expert. What do you say?”

I always share as much as I know and give the best advice that I am able regarding the condition and health of the tree or shrub, the structural integrity, the extent of damage or disease, the best pruning approach, safety, and such matters. I even give advice regarding the effects that actions can have regarding heating and cooling needs of the house, irrigation needs, and the aesthetic values.

Yet I always remember that my knowledge is limited. I share what I can state with certainty. Regarding what a person would prefer, I leave to the person to judge according to the best information that I can supply.

However, even after expressing that the decision belongs to the customers, they often will ask, “What would you do if it were your tree?”

In the Church, for the sake of the Church, Christ has given some to be “pastors and teachers.” He has given some to serve in the capacity of full-time study of the Word and teaching of the Word.

Prior to the Lord’s suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles tended to think of themselves as experts. This changed after they perceived the truth, after the Holy Spirit opened their hearts to what really is. St. Paul, the last of the apostles, likewise thought of himself as an expert before his conversion.

Afterwards, however, they perceived themselves and presented themselves entirely differently. Afterwards they were merely men appointed to speak and teach and preach what they had heard and seen. They were promised to be directed by the Holy Spirit and they thereafter spoke what the Holy Spirit directed them to say. When they spoke with absoluteness, they did so only regarding what they had received. They simply reiterated to others what had been told to them.

No one should hold a pastor or teacher more highly than this. The Jews in Berea (Acts 17:10-12) are commended for their caution in trusting Paul and Silas until they searched the Scriptures and found that Paul and Silas were indeed teaching in accord with the Scriptures. In this regard, there were many things that sounded to them as though they were brand new doctrines. But as they searched the Scriptures, they saw that these were not new at all, but were in exact accord with what had been previously written. Baptism fulfilled and superceded Circumcision. The Lord’s Supper fulfilled and superceded the Passover. The Old Testament was fulfilled and superceded by the New Testament, and so on.

Today there are a multitude of doctrines claiming to be in accord with the Scriptures. As St. Paul admonishes, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

Truly we need daily to examine what we hold to be true so as to be absolutely certain that we are not setting ourselves up as self-proclaimed experts, but rather, are hearing what the Spirit says to the churches.

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