Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seeing Imperfectly

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 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.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13.

This passage reminds me that, from my place here on earth, I now see things imperfectly. My understandings of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, life, death, the church, and theological arguments are imperfect. A day will come when I will know everything completely; but for now, I must be satisfied with limited knowledge. I must be content to seek to live out this life to the best of my abilities with incomplete information and therefore recognize that I will likely make some wrong choices compared to the choices I would make if I had complete knowledge. I am limited by my time and place in history. I am limited by my intellectual capacity. I am limited by the specific circumstances of my life. I am limited by what God allows me to discover in these imperfect times.

So why is it that I have such a tendency to think that I am right in any and all theological arguments? I do not think I am alone in this. When we disagree with others there is a great propensity for us to think that we have the issue all worked out and that all others must be wrong. The way I see it must be clear, while others are seeing things as if they were “puzzling reflections in a mirror.” No, I am pretty sure that 1 Corinthians 13 is directed to the early Church, all other people, and me! This should make me (and you) more humble in arguments of all types. As Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) once said, “I beseech you by the bowels of Christ to think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

If today we all see things imperfectly, then let us recognize that our lives, our homes, our churches, our schools, and our governments will be imperfect places. We do not yet have a corner on truth. There is only One who sees things clearly, perfectly, and without error. Therefore, while I am here on this earth, I will live with greater love for those with whom I disagree.

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