“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble. For instance, one morning you might wake up and make the assumption that your bed was in the same place that it always was, even though you would have no real evidence that this was so. But when you got out of your bed, you might discover that it had floated out to sea, and now you would be in terrible trouble all because of the incorrect assumption that you’d made. You can see that it is better not to make too many assumptions, particularly in the morning.” — Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy
In a world of imperfect information, we all make assumptions on a daily basis. Assumptions are part of the human experience. Our perception of reality is often not 100% accurate. I used to dream of becoming a great athlete as I shot baskets late at night by light of the family car. Pistol Pete Maravich did that and got into the NBA, so with some practice I should too, right? Er, no — I mean the fact that I had no way to even play on a team would prove to be an insurmountable issue to my NBA aspirations. Assumptions themselves are not bad, but a refusal to acknowledge when they are wrong, in the face of reality, can lead to missing the proverbial boat.
There is little doubt that in Jesus’ day there were plenty of assumptions that He would challenge in a big way. Immediately, by his very birth He challenged the assumption that a virgin could have a child — no miracle like that had ever happened. He challenged the assumptions of the Pharisees about religion. He challenged the assumptions of the Romans that military power will triumph and that a death by execution is the end of a matter. He challenged the assumptions of the Jewish nation, that the Messiah would establish a lasting political monarchy, driving out the invaders once and for all.
The first will be first, the rich will be rich, the wise will be wise, or will they? Time cannot stand still, or can it? Some things that are broken, cannot be fixed, or can they? Some people are hopeless, or are they? The winds and the water will not obey the voice of a man, or will it? Some segments of the populace should be avoided, or should they?
Jesus was always different from everyone else, even from His disciples and those who wanted to be like Him. He was somehow deeper, realer, truer, gentler, stronger, more mysterious, more transparent, more human yet more spiritual, than any other man or woman that ever spoke to Him, saw Him, touched Him, loved Him or hated Him.
Jesus was not interested in power, He was power. Jesus was not political, He was God. Jesus did not make assumptions. He could see clearly the way things really are. He didn’t make them, He came to break them.
That is still true today. He came to break the assumptions that keep our hearts from His. The ones we make that justify running from our Creator, or hiding from Him like Adam and Eve. The ones that say “I’m not good enough” or “I’m too good, I don’t need that hokey stuff.”
It’s healthy to bring our assumptions into the light of God’s glory and see if they disintegrate or hold true. We ought to measure our thoughts and our expectations of life by the great North Star of the Word of God and our relationship with the Holy Spirit, not by the fads of the day.
Sometimes we assume things that take hold and begin to have an outsized influence on how we think and act. If we’re not careful we can build a cage of our own perspective, hemming ourselves in until we are dogmatic, but not dogmatic in the ways of God’s heart but in the ways of our own.
If Jesus taught us anything it’s that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. Our assumptions are usually products of this world. If they’re causing us to view ourselves, others, or God improperly, then Jesus came to break them and set us free from them so we can experience reality as it truly is and experience Him as He truly is.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).