I often work with people who are trying to find the courage to know what they know.

Imagine standing in front of a wall that you are about to paint. You look at it and decide that red would be a perfect color for the wall, and you’re right. It would be.

You have a paintbrush in your hand. Next to you is a step ladder with an open bucket of paint on top. You reach up and dip your paintbrush into the bucket.

But, something’s wrong!

Your paintbrush comes out yellow. That bucket is full of yellow paint! Yellow is definitely not the right color for this wall.

You decide to try again. After carefully washing off your brush, you again take your place in front of the wall. You reach up and dip your brush into the paint can. It’s yellow. That’s not right. Everyone you know agrees that this wall should be painted red. You decide you need a break. You set down your brush and walk away upset. You decide to give it 24 hours.

The next day you have calmed down. You are feeling a little more positive now. You go to the wall, pick up your brush, which has caked-on dried paint from the day before and you spend the next 30 minutes carefully cleaning the brush. Then, you carefully and happily dip it in the bucket, only to be shocked again that it came out yellow.

You throw down the brush, frustrated. You spend 15 minutes looking at the wall carefully making sure that red would be the best color, not yellow. Yup, it should be red. You pick up your brush, wash it off and dip it in the paint bucket…

I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to finish.

There are some things in life that are definitely not the way they should be. You know how they should be, but every time you try to make changes, it doesn’t work. You get mad, frustrated, hard to be around, depressed…

At some point you have to be willing to know that the color in the bucket is yellow. And yes, you will also know that yellow is not the right color. But, you have to act like you know what you know. It’s just hard to know some things. Other people painting the wall will find it relatively easy to enjoy their work if they don’t know the wall should be red. But you know it. Knowing things makes life hard. We would like to be able to unknow them sometimes. There are two truths in conflict here. One, the wall should be red. Two, the paint in the bucket is yellow. You are going to be tempted to unknow one of them. The reality of sin in the world can be one of those truths that is hard to know. Our inability to change it as completely as we would like to is the other truth that is hard to know. These two are in conflict. It would be nice if either one were not true.

Christ’s model of interacting with the world did not involve seeking greater and greater disengagement so that he could be at peace, untouched by the physical realm. Instead the incarnation was the most dramatic step ever toward engagement. It was also a step toward pain.

I can’t imagine how Jesus dealt with the knowledge he had and the voluntary limitations he put on himself. It was like he knew what the right color should be for every wall he came in contact with, but willingly dipped the brush in and painted anyway. It was a choice to interact with fallen people or no people at all. It was a choice to paint with a yellow brush or not to paint at all. He knew he had the answer people needed and he knew many would reject him.

He knew and allowed himself to know. He allowed himself to feel the pain of knowing.