"What’s understood ain’t gotta be explained." I heard the statement a few days ago, and it’s been popping up in my mind like a lyric you can’t get out of your head. It sounds good. It actually sounds catchy, something you might put in a song, in the background of an Instagram post with someone working out, or on the top of Twitter picture of a couple looking like Bonnie and Clyde. If you chew on the words a little longer, you realize the sweet taste of smooth words disappears as fast as cotton candy.
To a certain degree, the saying is on point. When someone understands how to drive, you don’t explain to them how to reverse, parallel park, or check their mirrors before changing lanes; even though I’m sure we all know a few people that could use that lesson again. Certain things don’t need to be explained. I’d argue that those situations should be relegated to areas of motor skills, and from that point the recurrence of explanations depends on the urgency and importance of the issue. In reality when we neglect explanations of essential matters, we weaken the resolve and urgency of our pursuit.
Double Dangers in not Explaining
One of the dangers in neglecting to explain what’s understood is failing to realize when people have “understood” differently. You can already see the awkward moment happening when he says I love you, while she is still at “I like you like you”. If we’re not on the same page then one person may be ending the book before the other is even halfway through. Jesus Christ gives a similar example in Matthew 7:21-23 with misguided souls that believe they have a relationship with Christ. It would have been to their benefit to clarify and truly understand what the Lord was after, instead of creating their own relationship rules. Misunderstanding is difficult in relationships, but damning for our eternal one.
The second danger is the loss of urgency. Athletic teams don’t just put their goals in front of them once, even though it’s obvious they want to win championships and rivalry games. Instead they plaster reminders all over the walls, with countdowns, videos, and images. Having the goal in front of people regularly re-focuses their motivations. Reminders are good for goals, but necessary for strong relationships. Think about the son that never hears I'm proud of you, or the daughter that rarely hears I love you. That’s how bonds get stretched, strained, and severed. Relationships aren't harmed by repeating familial associations and affections, but there are plenty that have doubted their connection because of a lack of consistent reminding and remembering. How tragic is it when believers forget their life in Christ? Constantly thinking on and clarifying our relationship with God pours Christ into our hearts like concrete in the foundation of a home.
In a world poised and purposed to distract and deceive, Christians must take up the daily duty of reminding themselves, who they are, and what they are called to. We are prone to forget, and our motivations naturally ebb and flow. Daily defining what Christ calls the Gospel, and how that impacts us is a protection. It is also how God through His word commands believers to live. If we have been saved we have been tasked with being ready to share the reason for the faith that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15). The best way to be ready is to stay ready, and we stay ready by recounting and looking for opportunities to practice and share our faith. Peter also teaches the same principle when he retells persecuted Christians, what they are to be seeking as they grow in Christ:
“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”
Peter knows he is whistling the same tune to believers that know these truths, but he is unashamed in defining what their life should look like when they are in relationship with Christ. It’s foolish to not drill the fundamentals, especially when it comes to the faith. They say the devil’s in the details, but I think he’d be just as happy if you forgot them.