Psalm 53, Proverbs 25, Isaiah 53:1-6
Doris, my wife, has an amazing gift of unknowing. She has a birthday coming up in a couple of months. About a week before, she and I will go out shopping. We will walk through endless aisles of hoity-toity dress shops. (I keep saying they have great stuff at Walmart.) She will try on a hundred outfits while I sit dutifully and comment on each one. I will say very flattering things like, “That is stunning. It will look so good on you while we watch the NCCA basketball game THAT STARTS IN 45 MINUTES!” She will pay no attention to my subtle hints. When the time is right she will pick out THE DRESS, let me know, and then go outside while I make the purchase, get it put in a box, and, if possible, ask to have it wrapped.
On the day of her birthday, I will bring out the beautiful package, probably wrapped by me because no store gift wraps in mid-May. She will open it and the gift of unknowing will kick in. She will act so surprised. She will compliment me on my impeccable taste. She will stand up, hold the dress up as if she has never seen it before, and be completely delighted with this wonderful birthday present that “she knew nothing about.” It’s a gift.
If the unknowing gift is helpful in positive things like birthday surprises, it is doubly helpful in some of the darker moments of life. Here’s one, you go to the dentist and he walks up with his hand casually held behind his back. You act like you don’t know that he has a needle the size of a tent peg behind there and he is going to stick in your gum until your eyes water. Or, you go to your accountant at tax time and you all cheerfully banter back and forth about the weather and how the Titans are going to do next fall, both of you acting like you don’t know he is going to hand you a paper that says you will have to sell your first-born child in order to make Uncle Sam happy this year. Unknowing can come in handy.
Jesus practiced unknowing. He was well versed in the scriptures. He totally understood His place in them. Do you remember when He stood in the synagogue and read Isaiah 61? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed Me to preach Good News to the poor…” Then, when He finished reading, He said, “Today, this has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) He knew all that Isaiah, and all of the prophets said about Him, and yet, He was able to act as if He did not know.
As we move toward Palm Sunday and then Easter in our 40 Days Biblical readings, that becomes increasingly apparent. He knows what Isaiah 53:3 said, “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” AND, He knew that prophecy was about Him. But he continues to minister to the masses, heal the sick, even raise the dead, be about His Father’s business as if He did not know. In a few days, He will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, hearing the cheers and accolades of the crowd, knowing (but unknowing) that a week later they would be screaming, “Crucify Him!”
So, what does that have to do with me and you? We might be better able to do the Father’s business if we would practice a little “unknowing.” I know that there are some people in my office that don’t especially care for me, (Come on Tracey, ‘fess up!) but I can unknow and treat them with kindness, maybe even do some random nice act for them. I know there are folks at my church that see decisions differently than me, but I can unknow and worship with them and pray the blessing and anointing of God on their lives. I know that some of the poor and underserved that I am called to minister to, are on a completely different political trajectory than I am, but I can be the face and feet of Jesus to them and love them as if I did not know. Or, I can hold a grudge, focus on differences, dig in my heels and be stubborn, do all of those things that are a result of “knowing,” and fail to see the miracles of God unfold.
Maybe this is the time to practice a little bit of unknowing. Love somebody today that you KNOW does not love you. Support some leader today that you KNOW is not your first choice. Act surprised today when someone does some simple act of kindness even though you KNOW that it’s only because they have been reading the same blog you have. Maybe we, and the people around us would be better off today if we had the gift of unknowing.
And besides, you can do what Doris does. The week after her birthday she will take the dress back and exchange it for something else! That’s okay. I’ll act like I don’t know.