There is a piece of wisdom that an old shepherd of mine told me 25 years ago. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You donít know what you don't know."
It was a sobering thought, and has become a permanent part of my DNA. It provides a safeguard against my being too self-assured, or surprised, about anything.
It can be taken too far, of course, to the point of obsessive insecurity, or paranoia about what "might" happen, but the power of this insight is that it speaks to our fear of regretting. How many times have you thought of just how differently you would have acted, "if I only knew."
One of the barriers that keep Christians from reaching beyond us, beyond here is found in what we do not know.
For example, if you knew that right now there was a child abandoned by her desperate parents in front of the United Supermarket, and that she is sitting cold, scared, and unnoticed huddled next to the ice machine, would you be sitting where you are sitting? I wouldn't. I would leave us, leave here, and go to that girl. But only if I knew.
If you knew that, right now, sitting in their living room, there was a kind, but imperfect couple full of shame and hopelessness. They are praying, begging God to explain to them how they can be forgiven. Would you be sitting where you are sitting? Not me. I would go beyond us, beyond here right now and knock on their door and do my best to explain the gospel! But only if I knew.
Only if I was aware. My experience has proven to me that these people exist. Right now. And they are beyond us, beyond here, so that is where we must go to find them. To serve them. To love them.
And by the way, in case you were unaware, Jesus commissioned it. It is the Christian's primary work.