It’s a humbling to acknowledge that we are ignorant. To say to ourselves that someone else knows more than we do. The next step is even more humbling. To ask someone else to teach us and then to do what they say.
A man wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. Better, he wanted to know what to do. Jesus told him to sell everything, give it to the poor, and then follow Jesus. It was too big a step.
A few years later, another man asked Paul what to do to be saved. Literally, at that moment, because he was afraid he was going to be killed for allowing prisoners to escape. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul said. The man did. It was not too big a step.
A man encountered an angel in this middle of his worship. The angel gave him a message and he responded, “How can I be sure of this?” Because he didn’t believe the message, he was prevented from speaking for several months.
A woman encountered an angel. The angel gave her a message and she responded, “How will this be?” She got an answer and a month later wrote a remarkable song about God’s graciousness, still repeated in churches.
The process of learning something means that we go from not know to knowing. It may being going from not knowing how to knowing how, from not believing to believing, from not being able to explain to being able to explain. And it is possible to learn something in spite of our initial resistance. The man who said, “How can I be sure of this?” wasn’t able to speak for a few months, but his wife did get pregnant.
When I was assembling the Advent journal, I suggested that intentionally learning something from someone is part of love. It’s not that we learn to love the person we are learning from, necessarily. It’s that we cannot love without humility.
In the photo is my friend and colleague Rev. Dr. Will Curry. I’m learning from him regularly.