Be careful in how you use your knowledge

Published 12:46 pm Saturday, June 25, 2016

By Bob Madsen

It has been said that a little knowledge can be dangerous. I have always taken that to mean that some people, armed with just a touch of information might mistaken themselves for subject matter experts and get themselves into trouble.

The takeaway lesson would be cautious in how we use the knowledge we have.

Recently, I have begun to wonder if the maxim is a word of encouragement to not settle for a little knowledge, but to apply ourselves to the tasks of learning and knowing. In other words, seeking to be educated about the things we do not know.

At the moment, I am in Portland, Ore.,for the national assembly of our denomination. As I have become acquainted (barely) with the city I have been somewhat embarrassed to discover how little I know about it. I was startled the first morning I was here to look up the street in front of my hotel and catch sight of a high hill framed by tall buildings on either side of the street. And as I walked from my hotel to the convention center, I was even more startled to discover that the city is basically ringed by hills – probably best considered foothills – and that a bona fide mountain or two may be easily glimpsed.

It is humbling to discover how little one knows about a place or a person.

We all make assumptions about one another, about places near and far, about concepts, and about the life of faith, and (speaking for myself and some I might call sisters and brothers in faith) about the life of faith and discipleship.

The hall in which our assembly meets for work and worship is adorned with banners bearing images of photographs captured by the Hubble telescope as it peers out into the vast expanse of space. I know very little about space. I know enough about space, however, to know what a mysterious and extraordinary place it is.

And I know enough about the life of faith and discipleship to gaze upon the images of the heavens and give thanks for the goodness of God who creates and calls all things into being and all persons into deeper relationship with our Creator and one another, that we might know ourselves, one another, and our Creator better.


Bob Madsen is pastor of Andalusia’s First Presbyterian Church, PCUSA.