The older I get, the more I realize that I am ignorant about almost everything there is to know.
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Also, the older I get, the more I am learning to embrace it – not accept it, but embrace it.
Think about it: when you consider the vast sum of knowledge that is available on any given topic in the universe, most of us are ignorant about virtually all of it.
There is actually very little that we aren’t ignorant about.
We’ve learned some things, to be sure.
Mastered some life skills.
Presumably engaged in a career of some kind, with some knowledge accumulated there.
We’ve picked up some people skills, some social cues, some survival stuff.
And I think we each probably have a few areas of expertise, where we do know quite a lot.
To be sure, we know some things.
But again, on the vast scale of human knowledge, we know very, very little.
And when it comes to the knowledge of God, a strange paradox emerges for me:
Objectively, I know more about Him than I have ever known before. I am constantly growing in my understanding and knowledge of Him. I am further down the road than I have ever been. I understand more Scripture, I have grasped more theology, I have more lived-out experience of His ways and His presence. I have certainly been growing over the years.
But as that happens, I am also aware of how much greater He is than anything I can fully know, and of how much more of Him I need to know – my growth both takes me higher, while simultaneously highlights my remaining ignorance.
And at this point, let’s chat about that word “ignorance,” because some of us are probably getting annoyed by its use here.
We usually hear it as an insult, and it certainly can be that.
But it doesn’t always mean that. As our mothers taught us, the tone of voice that we use says an awful lot about our intended meaning.
At its core, the word “ignorance” simply means that one is missing knowledge or understanding. One doesn’t have all the information. One is lacking in comprehension on a topic.
And in that sense, of course, we are all ignorant of God to some extent.
It remains a truth long told: No one has been able to master Him yet.
The apostle Paul preached the Gospel, saw the miraculous, healed the sick, raised the dead, came face-to-face with the risen Christ, was caught up into Heaven, and had the God-breathed Scriptures breathed through him. After all of this incredible experience, knowledge, and revelation, what was His response?
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1Cor 13.12)
Paul’s reaction was that, while here on earth, he only sees and understands Jesus in part. He’s seen some.
Even after alllllll that understanding and experience that he had.
He only knew part of who God is. One day, when he saw Jesus permanently face-to-face, Paul would know much more.
But for now, here on earth, he was still partially ignorant. He didn’t know everything. He didn’t have the whole picture.
And crucially, he was not alarmed by it.
Jesus told us, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” (Mt 18.3).
And let’s face it – little children are, by nature, ignorant. And we mean that in the sweetest way!
There is much they don’t know. But they don’t care. They are simple-minded in the purest manner. They are trusting. They don’t put on airs. They don’t try and show off their knowledge. In their beautiful innocence, they don’t know everything, and don’t need to. They wholeheartedly put their faith in the ones around them who know more.
And very importantly to our topic here, they are very, very curious – and that causes them to seek, and to ask, and causes them to grow.
Jesus tells us to be like this when it comes to Him.
And of course, ignorance can be a very bad word. If ignorance makes us pretentious, if it makes us lazy, if it makes us complacent, if it causes us to share our ignorance with others.
It can be dangerous when I accept it without changing it. It can be dangerous if I remain ignorant.
But ignorance doesn’t need to do those things.
Because my ignorance can drive me forward in life.
Acknowledging it motivates me.
It makes me hungry for more knowledge.
It causes me to be very curious.
It helps keep me humble.
It protects me from arrogance and self-righteousness.
It can keep my feet firmly grounded on the earth, but also move me forward in my desire to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (2Pet 3.18), to expand, to increase my understanding of this beautiful God of ours.
Acknowledging my ignorance is the only possible honest answer I can give when I think of all there is to know, about God or about anything.
I am indeed ignorant about most things.
But seeing that truth, I press forward to grow past it, to grow deeper, to grow up. With excitement and curiosity I say, “There is so much I don’t know, but that just means that there is so much more to learn and grow into!”
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