What We Don’t Know
Then [they] began to complain about [Jesus] because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” – John 6:41-42 (NRSVue)
We don’t know all the things we think we know about other people. I’m not saying it’s the same for us as it was for Jesus. He was unrecognized and misunderstood by those around him, including some who ought to have been able to read the signs of who he was. But I am saying we can make a lot of assumptions about others based on limited knowledge, uncurious assumptions, unexamined prejudices, and a lack of imagination. We categorize, label, sort, and filter; then we base our expectations, communications, and interactions on the little we know.
Is this not Sue? Surely she agrees with me on Topic A. How could she not?
Is this not Andy? Surely someone like him would never agree with me on Cause B!
Is this not Morgan? Surely they have seen what Candidate C is promoting and would never vote for a person who did that.
Is this not Jesus? Didn’t he grow up on your block? Don’t you remember what a smartypants/introvert/late-bloomer he was? When did he stop building tables for a living? Does his family even know what he’s up to these days? Why would I listen to him?
Who does he think he is?
We don’t know what we don’t know. But maybe we’re asking the wrong questions in the wrong places.
Holy One, help us to know you better. Open our minds to wider possibilities, to deeper encounters, and to greater understanding. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.