1 Corinthians 13:9-12 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
What comfort and wisdom there is here. God has provided enough wisdom in his Word to enable us to KNOW him TRULY, if not FULLY; but while ever we remain confined in the time-and-space restrictions of THIS world, we CANNOT see the full wonder and beauty of his BIG picture.
This is COMFORTING when we struggle with the perplexing aspects of his providence in our lives, and when we are faced with some of the paradoxical tensions in his Word. To give some examples, the fact that HE has absolute sovereign control over EVERYthing that happens, and yet he holds US responsible for ALL our decisions and actions; that Jesus is 100% God and 100% Man at the same time; the Bible is at every point HIS (INFALLIBLE) Word while at the same time it reflects the personalities, experiences and characteristics of its various HUMAN authors; and the fact that the Kingdom of God has ALREADY COME, and yet we are to pray earnestly that it WILL come.
All this might be a real challenge to my logic-loving, truth-obsessed mind, but I can nevertheless take comfort that in the next world, ALL my present frustrations will be resolved, and the ‘burning questions’ answered.
But there is also great WISDOM here. When I get into heated arguments with fellow-believers about predestination, baptism, eschatology, and political ideology, I just need to remember that none of us has the FULL picture this side of Jesus’ Second Coming, and that our differences are part of what God is using NOW to sharpen our wits and understanding and to correct, or at least compensate for, things that belong to the innate biases of our fallen nature. I NEED my Arminian friends to protect me from letting my beloved Calvinism morph into dangerous HYPER-Calvinism!
And there is also in these verses the challenge to expect GROWTH in my understanding of God, my ‘theology’, even BEFORE I come to stand face-face in my Saviour’s presence. I often reflect on the deep questions I want answers for when I meet him, but perhaps what Paul AND the Holy Spirit are saying to me here is that the answer to these conundrums will be so OBVIOUS in the Age to Come that I will wonder how I could have ever been so confused! Meanwhile, I will rest content with the ‘poor reflection as in a mirror’, or with ‘see[ing] through a glass, darkly’ as my KJV put it back in the ‘olden days’ when I was in Sunday School!
– Bruce Christian