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I Don’t Know (And Neither Should You)

There’s no shame in ignorance; only in pretending to know things you don’t. When you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Admit it: I don’t know.

Real wisdom isn’t about knowing things; instead, it’s a willingness to be taught. A wise person, by acknowledging their own ignorance, leaves space for the next step, a new discovery, fresh insight.

Such epiphanies doesn’t always come easy. When Jesus was raised from the dead, his disciples simply couldn’t fathom it. They were so busy processing the crucifixion that they were unable to absorb the reality of the resurrection.

It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to them – in the garden saying Mary’s name; on the road to Emmaus breaking bread; by the seashore eating fish – that the disciples were able to see the truth. Jesus had to literally reach out and touch someone before his disciples finally understood.

If even the Twelve couldn’t wrap their heads around what would happen to Jesus, how can I expect to understand what God is doing in my own life? Despite my earnest attempts to anticipate God’s plan, I’m constantly astonished. Better to admit it up front: I have no idea what’s going on here.

Real strength lies, not in knowing, but in trusting. Having faith that despite my lack of understanding, the Holy Spirit is present with me. Jesus walks beside me on the way, ready to break the bread and pour the wine, if only I have eyes to see it. If I’ll invite him to come and stay the night with me, he will show himself.

What is getting in between you and the next step that God wants to reveal to you? What are the un-examined assumptions you’re carrying? What is it you think you know? Are there unexpected marks of the resurrection hiding right under your nose?

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  • Frank Caruthers

    Great post, Micah. I’ll start with a question: If you’re willing to admit that you don’t know, how are you sure that “Jesus walks beside [you]”? I ask because this is what’s between me and faith–I feel the “Holy Spirit”, but God and Jesus are out of my reach. That is, I don’t feel the presence of either (although, I suppose any trinitarian would say that the Holy Spirit *is* God and Jesus). I see no sign whatsoever of “the resurrection of the body”, except in the metaphorical sense that the church is a manifestation of God and Christ.

    As I’m sure you know, Paul explains that the resurrected body is a “spiritual” body, and therefore different from the worldly body that was its predecessor. I ponder that section of I Corinthians (I think) all the time. Is this why no one recognizes the resurrected Jesus at first? And if so, how did they know, eventually, that it was Him?

    • Hi Frank. Good question.

      In this post, I was making a distinction between knowing and trusting (or “faith-ing”), and in this sense I’d say that I don’t *know*, in a 100% certainty kind of way, whether my relationship with God, or Jesus, or any other person in my life, is really real. In my experience, there’s no way to “prove God,” or even to prove friendship with my fellow human beings. I have evidence that I find convincing, but at the end of the day, I still have to trust.

      As long as I’m looking for certainty, I’m liable to put off the decision to really live into the consequences of the relationships that shape my life – be they with God, or with other people.

      • Frank Caruthers

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply–I appreciate your perspective. Nevertheless, I consider the perception of reality as a continuum, with more evidence (no matter that some would argue that all perception is an illusion) indicating a greater probability of the object being “real”. I’m not looking for certainty, but relationships with people are a million times more real to me than God.

        I don’t mean to argue–I admire your faith as I do the faith of the pastors and congregation I know at my church. And it’s neither fair nor appropriate for me to burden you with my lack of faith. Just appreciate your keen interest in, and insights into, theology, Christology, faith, etc.

  • Philana Danceforth

    YUM — fresh meat! Thanks, Micah 🙂