For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Most believe the “glass” of which the Apostle Paul is speaking is a mirror. Clearly, (pun very much intended) mirrors manufactured and available in Corinth were not of the same quality we’ve come to expect today. The reflection was dark and distorted. Peering in to such a glass resulted in an obscure or imperfect vision of reality. Paul used the words to illustrate our yet-to-be-perfected vision of the Kingdom of God.
I believe, however, that understanding that we all “see through a glass darkly” is important. You see, as participants in the human condition, we draw conclusions. We make determinations. We assume. Those conclusions and determinations and assumptions are based on what we know. The problem is, we do not know (and never will) all there is to know about anything. There is always more to know…a new revelation…a new horizon. And, the smallest bit of new information or understanding can change all of our conclusions and determinations and assumptions. This is especially true when it comes to faith and the revelation of God in our lives. God is anything but finite and static.
“On a cold January day, a forty-three year old man was sworn in as the chief executive of his country. By his side stood his predecessor, a famous general who, fifteen years earlier had commanded his nation’s armed forces in a war that resulted in the defeat of Germany. The young leader was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. He spent the next five hours watching parades in his honor and stayed up celebrating until three o’clock in the morning.
You know whom I am describing, right? Or do you? If I added one more piece of information… one little tidbit…everything changes. When I tell you that the cold January day was actually January 30, 1933, you realize that it simply can’t be John F. Kennedy that I’m describing. It is, in fact, Adolf Hitler.
Or, consider the fact that it wasn’t too awfully long ago that the majority of people believed the world was flat. This perceived truth impacted behavior. During this period, there was very little exploration. People feared that if they traveled too far they might fall off the edge of the earth. So…they stayed put. It wasn’t until the new tidbit of information was revealed – the world just might be round – that behaviors changed on a massive scale. Societies began to traverse the planet. Trade routes were established; spices were traded. New ideas, like mathematics, were share between societies which unleased all kinds of discovery. The correction of a simple false assumption moved the human race forward.
The point is this: When it comes to the majesty and magnitude of God, we all see through a glass darkly. We simply do not know all there is to know about a God I believe to be somewhere beyond infinite. Unimaginable even. Being overly, concretely conclusive, determinate, and assumptive – based on what we think we know – might just keep all kinds of discovery in our faith lives from being unleashed.
Seek. Learn. Grow. Discover. Then, start all over again.
Johns Creek Baptist Church
* The January 30, 1933 illustration and the Flat Earth illustration are taken directly from Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Very good article, David. I am and analytical person; driven to understand how or why everything works, in spite of the fact that I know I’ll never understand many things. Through this process I am often led to back to the verse you quoted, 1 Corinthians 13:12. Thanks for all you do!