The Expository Files.


"So What?" to the "Somewhat"

Galatians 2:6



"But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: (Galatians 2:6 KJV)

BY WAY OF EXAMPLE, THE apostle Paul teaches us how to handle those people and things which by the world's standards seem so impressive. In Galatians Paul recounts two trips he made to Jerusalem following his conversion; the first trip, three years following his conversion (1:18), and the second fourteen years later (2:1). No doubt he had heard great things about Peter, James and John, apostles of the Lord and pillars in the Jerusalem church (2:9). They were great men of faith and Paul refers to them as "apostles before me" (1:17) "them which were of reputation" (2:2), and "those who seemed to be somewhat" (2:6). Paul, however, was not unduly taken with the reputation of these apostles as others apparently had been. For, he says with reference to his conversion ". . . immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me." (1:16-17). When he finally went up to Jerusalem three years later he only visited with two of the apostles, Peter and James (1:18-19). Also, in describing his visit fourteen years later he points out that those who were "somewhat" (i.e. had the reputation of being important) did not matter to him, were not accepted by God on the basis of their "person" (i.e. who they were, having been of the original twelve and personal companions of Jesus) and furthermore they had added nothing to his ability, authority or success as an apostle (2:6-8). And finally, Paul had actually confronted and opposed the apostle Peter for wrong doing ( 2:11ff). In effect, Paul had declared "So What?" to those who were "somewhat."

"So what?" The phrase sounds like the wisecrack response of a disgruntled person trying to justify some unworthy desire or request, but actually the expression "So what?" can be turned around and used as a powerful verbal bullet when fired off with authority in the appropriate situation. The words compose a serious question that we ought to be asking with some regularity. As adults we don't sound out the question "So what?" as often as we should, partly because the phrase is associated with the quarrels heard between children. However, children and teens should not be allowed exclusive rights to such a profound concept as that expressed by "So what?".

Why is "So what?" so significant? Why should it be given a more prominent place in our daily conversation? Because, if used in the right context and with the right attitude it can shed the light of truth and reality on many of the false assumptions of our society. Much of what people are so wrapped up in today, the shallowness, materialism and selfishness of modern living deserves a big "SO WHAT?"

When junior, for example, comes home and says, "All the guys are wearing big, baggy blue jeans, why can't I . . ." (You know, the type that hang down around the knees and can only held up by suspenders attached to the trailing edge of their T-shirts.) In response, mom and dad should come back with, "So what?" Or, when sis says, "But all my girl friends' folks are giving them fifty bucks to go the Brittany Spears concert", mom and dad should answer, "So what?" Not in an effort to end the conversation, but for the purpose of beginning the process of thinking about the moral values and standards (or the lack thereof) behind the activity in question.

Some of the habits (many of which are encouraged by friends as well as TV) of young people, and adults alike, are void of any redeeming value. Even though the world may think certain attitudes and activities are important (i.e. somewhat), on closer examination, we find that there may be nothing solid behind them in terms of the healthy moral and spiritual development of the child or adult. And for this reason they deserve a big "SO WHAT?" Habits and attitudes that we are developing and activities that we are asked to engage in should all pass through the crucible of "So what?" So what's the value, so what's the purpose, so what's the authority behind it, so what's the good it's going to do me, so what's the end result?

This is not to say that every activity that is engaged in for the purpose of recreation and pleasure should be avoided. It is not a sin to have fun or goof off once in a while, or do things that bring pleasure, but it is wrong to sin in the process. So when contemplating the value of a particular activity which to the world is esteemed to be "somewhat" ask yourself "So what?" as a method of examining whether the activity is worth your time as a Christian.

 

 By Edward C. Barnes
 From Expository Files 11.10; October 2004

 

 

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