“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)
As long as we’re in this human body there are things we’ll never understand. Yes, of course, God gives some people higher IQ’s and greater measures of understanding and insight, but no human being, regardless of how intelligent they are, can know the mind of God or why He does or allows things to happen as they do. Realizing this helps me to come to some personal conclusions.
First, everyone is flawed in their understanding of the Bible. We do the best we can with what we’ve got but estimates of the number of denominations within Christianity in the world today range from 4500 – 40,000. What does that say? Even professing believers have issues with one another, but beyond that, it shouts that our misunderstanding of Scripture is very divisive, which breaks the heart of God.
Second, ultimately we only have a couple of choices as to what we personally believe: we can take someone else’s views as our own – i.e. a respected theologian, of whom there are hundreds, or we can read and study the Bible and draw our own conclusions. The likelihood is that we will do some combination of those two, but the end result is the same – we’ll have an imperfect understanding.
Why is that important to understand? Mainly, since we’re all in the same boat, we need to offer grace to those with whom we disagree. I believe we’re all going to gasp at the simple truths of Scripture that we misunderstood or missed all together.
Thirdly, we’ve got to stop making excuses for God, based on our inability to understand His heart, mind, and actions completely. There are things we won’t ever understand until we get to the other side. Things like why God allows suffering, especially of children and other “innocents.” Why people who love God and have such a bright future die so young? Why so much division within the Body of Christ? There are hundreds of questions that arise for which we don’t have definitive answers, but there comes a point where we just must admit: “I don’t know the answer to that!”
Related to that, God will often give us answers to questions that satisfy us but may not satisfy someone else. I’m content in my own mind and heart to realize that God does and or allows some things that I don’t understand, but I can continue to love and serve Him without a definitive answer. Why? Because He’s God and I’m not. I’m very limited in my ability to see and understand things, God is not. I’m finite and earthbound, God is not.
God gives insight and understanding to some from whom we can learn and gain insight, but only to the extent it aligns with God’s Word, the Bible. But it’s interesting to me that different ones can read the same Books of the Bible or verses within a given book and come to completely opposite conclusions, each giving assurance that their conclusions came directly from God. For example, end times.
A pastor I respect and appreciate did a series on the subject of the Millennium. He explained that there are those who are premillenial, postmillenial, amillenial, then he said there are also those who are promillenial, which means they’re for whatever God decides to do. But his personal position was that he was a panmillenialist. He then explained that he believed it would all “pan” out in the end.
While that may seem to some to take a very important theological issue too lightly, the reality is, we don’t know for sure what God’s going to do, yet we allow our differing views to blind us to our need to love and accept those with whom we disagree.
Yes, of course, as you’ve been taught and because of your personal study you’ve come to conclusions that you firmly believe, and I applaud that. But don’t let your certainty on an issue drive a wedge between you and a brother or sister in Christ who is just as certain that you’re wrong and they’re right.
I’m content to believe that about which the Lord gives me certainty, but I will not argue with anyone who disagrees, because the fact of it is, we’re only expressing our opinions based on our imperfect earthbound understanding.
Let’s look at this from another angle in tomorrow’s post.
Blessings, Ed 😊
One thought on “Seeing Things Imperfectly”
Ed, I understand when a brother or sister comes to a different conclusion than me concerning the meaning of a verse, or chapter. I don’t understand why even though I’m not even trying to sway their interpretation over to mine, they still have to get angry with me & think I’m an idiot when I disagree with their belief, & then won’t accept my desire to agree to disagree with them over the true meaning. This has happened a few times for me over the years.