We Don’t Have a Clue
“She took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.” – Genesis 3:6
I get rattled when people seem to know Jesus as well as they know their multiplication tables.
To know something completely is to control it, to command it. Any time humanity masters an object we subject it to our own ends. From the secrets of the atom to the most efficient way to farm a chicken, we take existence, squeeze the mystery from it, and wreak havoc in the process; even though havoc is rarely our intention.
Imagine the horror that humanity would unleash were we able to really know God.
Maybe God made Adam and Eve so stupid as to eat the apple because their brilliance contained such danger. And so they fell. And so we are born with an inability to achieve or even receive absolute knowledge of the Divine.
Indeed, the only gods humanity can know inside out and backwards are pretenders to the throne that we bend to our image and then send on our bloody errands. It is no accident that those who are certain of their religious convictions are always the first to bless our world’s wars.
This is why the United Church of Christ is so sorely needed. The world needs a church audacious enough to gather in the name of Christ, yet humble enough to say we don’t quite know what we’re talking about.
I admit that “God Is Still Speaking” sounds a lot better than “We Don’t Have a Clue.” But, there is great good to be found in our cluelessness, in our humility, in embracing the hard-won knowledge that we don’t know much at all.
Dear God, keep us gladly mindful of our relative stupidity. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.