“Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and he will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come…. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’”
No one knows. Not even the Son of God, the one seated at the right hand of God. God only knows.
And yet, how often do we hear someone, usually someone with credentials, standing, status, position, influence, and/or a platform, telling us how they have it all figured out? They claim to have all the answers.
In times such as these, with so much unknown and uncertainty around so many things, it is very easy for someone to step into the empty place and make bold claims. We are most vulnerable when we are scared and unsure and if someone else seems to have the answers, it can make us feel like we have a little more control.
In their book, “Not Knowing: The Art of Turning Uncertainty into Opportunity,” Diana Renner and Steven D’Souza quote psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who said, “Overconfident professionals sincerely believe they have expertise, act as experts and look like experts. You will have to struggle to remind yourself that they may in the grip of an illusion.”
When I was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church, one of the things said by my bishop to our ordination class was, “Take authority to preach the Word of God, administer the Holy Sacraments and order the life of the Church.” Many, if not all of us, find ourselves, at least once in our career, truly struggling to understand the nature of this authority. And there are times when we overstep the bounds of this authority and justify it by thinking the church and/or society needs reassurance or certainty from spiritual leaders. The authority bestowed upon us at ordination is not an illusion, but there are plenty of times when leadership feels like we are just making it up as we go along.
What’s nice is knowing I’m not alone here. Jesus’ words remind who would listen that there are things in this life that NO ONE knows. There are things even Jesus himself would not claim to know. And it’s ok, maybe even Scriptural, for leaders to own this, when our natural inclination may be to press for certainty or fill the gap with sensationalist speculation.
Knowing might be comforting, but there are a great many things in this life that will never know. The life of faith is one that invites us to place our trust in God, the one who does know all, rather than settle for the temporary balm of the so-called, self-proclaimed experts eager to ease their own anxieties by graciously offering to interpret the signs for the rest of us.
There is much we do not know. And that’s ok.
 Mark 13:5-7,32 (NIV.)
 Diana Renner and Steven D’Souza, “Not Knowing: The Art Turning Uncertainty into Opportunity,” (New York: LID Publishing, 2016,) 38.