1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ (NRSV)
The more you think you know, the more you don't, and when it comes to the mind, will, and actions of God, this is even more true. The more we think we know about how God is working in the world, the less we actually do know. And that's okay, as long as we're honest about it. However, if we pretend to know more than we actually do, then we run the risk of doing some serious damage—not only to ourselves but to those around us. There's a word for this, one we've all heard many times: pride.
There are days I think I know everything. I'm the kind of person who inherently loves to learn, whether it's about deep, theological issues or the process of making single malt scotch. But I have a bad habit: when someone asks me a question about a particular topic, I have this tendency to pretend as if I know the answer, as if I have a clue what they're talking about. It's usually simple questions that evoke this response from me: Have you seen this movie or TV show, read this book, heard of this author, been to this place, etc. I don't like not knowing the answer. I don't like not knowing what's going on around me.
Here's why: like most only child, only grandchild Pisces individuals, like many individuals at all, it's nice to get the credit. It's nice to be recognized, to be affirmed for doing something good, something right. And then I read the passage above and do a proverbial (and sometimes literal) facepalm. I'm not the one to get the credit. In fact, even when I do get the credit, even when I deserve it, maybe it's not such a bad thing for me to pass it along to someone else, someone bigger than me. Someone whose ways are higher than my own, whose plan might involve me, but most likely, most definitely does not revolve around me. Sometimes I need an attitude check, and it's passages like the one above that give it to me.
Don't get me wrong—I'm not talking about being constantly and perpetually self-deprecating. We all have worth. We all have value. And I think it's important to claim both, to have confidence. But when it comes to the mind, will, heart, actions, and work of God, we might be best served to sit back and simply let God be God rather than trying to pretend we know what's going on. As we move closer to Holy Weekend, this is even more important. There are a lot of theories as to why Jesus suffered, died, and rose again. For me personally, I find more solace in trusting that I might not know why, that there might be reasons unknown to me. Instead, I simply trust that there's a reason at all for an innocent man, one who lived to love people and to challenge systems of oppression and inequality, to go through the physical hell he went through. I have to figure out what the implications of it all are for me and for the world in which I live. When you start asking those questions you realize the more you think you know, the more you don't. And that's okay.