A Terrible Thing to Waste–1 John 2:20-21

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. –1 John 2:20-21

My 9:00 am Comp class is driving me crazy. More accurately, some of them are driving me crazy. Several of these students are quite diligent and dependable. I have no complaints about them. Some days I wish I could tap four or five of them on the heads and say, “Let’s go.” The others probably wouldn’t even notice that we’re gone. Half of the others are absent on any given day. In fact, it’s a good day when I have half the class present.

It wouldn’t be so bad having these students lurch through the semester if they could already write at a competent college level. Many students come to college believing that because they made decent grades in high school English they can do anything that English education is ever likely to place in their way. After all, how hard can it be to write an essay. You just state a thesis, copy a few paragraphs from the Wikipedia article, and then throw in a few personal opinions. That ought to get you at least an A-, right?

That’s my problem with the students in my Comp class. They behave as if they know everything that they need to know, yet they demonstrably don’t know those things. In fact, the ones who know the most are the ones who show up every day and actually engage in class.

How often, though, do Christians behave in just the same way. Our attitude, at least some of the time, is that we already know it all. If we don’t know it, then it can’t be very important. So let’s just get on with the pot luck dinner. And here, the know-it-all believer seems to have a prooftext to support that self-satisfaction: “You know the truth.”

Just like my students don’t know it all, we as Christians cannot think we know it all, despite what John seems to say. After all, if John meant to say “You know it all,” then wouldn’t he have been wasting his time by writing the letter, telling them what they already knew. I don’t for a moment believe that John intended that his readers knew it all.

What frustrates me most about my students is that they have potential. If they were simply dumb as walls, then I wouldn’t mind them wasting their (lack of) potential, but they aren’t stupid. They’re just lazy. Similarly, God must look at us, anointed and possessed of the truth, and lament our lack of development. Our waste is far more serious than that of my 9:00 am students.