Pieces Parts


For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 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 13:9-12 

Let's play a game, shall we? You stand over there facing me and I'll hold up my right hand, palm out, between our faces. OK, tell me what you see. You say, I see four fingers and a thumb. I agree, there are four fingers and a thumb, and the thumb sticks out to the left. You say, oh no it doesn't. The thumb sticks out to the right.

Well, we can't have this! It can't be both! Somebody has to be right and somebody has to be wrong!

This is the problem of limited perspective. Each person sees from one vantage point and because of that has only part of the image available to them. This is why you can have two people with contradictory claims and yet both be right. Makes your head spin, doesn't it? The whole basis of human logic is the idea of non-contradiction. That is, you cannot have A and not-A at the same time. Well, yes you can, if A and not-A are just two different partial views of the same thing.

Another way to express this is to think of a jigsaw puzzle. There are many, many pieces that all fit together. Just because you have one piece, or even a dozen, doesn't mean you know what the whole picture is. Yet all the time, someone gets a few pieces of the puzzle together and then runs around trying to tell everybody else, "you're wrong."

There is a grave error that can come from the problem of limited perspective. Because no one can get the whole picture together, they just give up and claim there is no picture at all. Stupid, right? Except, that's what has happened in much of the modern world. It's the idea that there is no ultimate truth, no absolute morality, and everything is relative. No, it's not that way! The way it is, is that there couldn't be pieces and multiple differing views unless there was a whole thing there to begin with.

The opposite error is the one that says, everybody and everything that is different than my piece is just wrong and immoral. This leads to self-righteous attitudes of I'm OK, You're NOT! If someone else comes up with a piece of the puzzle that doesn't match their piece, they feel they have to conk them over the head and beat them into correctness. What they should be doing is saying, hmmmm, maybe the picture is bigger than I thought!

It gets worse. You can have contradictory claims where one is right and one is wrong. It's kind of like, one person is looking at something through a filter. It's all blurry and discolored and they just don't see right to begin with. That's not a matter of perspective; that's a problem of inability to see clearly. Or, someone may not even be looking in the right direction. Like trying to say to someone, look at this sparkly thing! They say, I don't see anything sparkly. NO, look over THIS way!

You can even have one answer that is right and multiple answers that are wrong. One of the adversary's favorite tricks is to try and get you to chose between two false answers. This was the trap the Pharisees kept setting up for Jesus. Should we pay tribute to Caesar? Yes or No! Jesus avoids the trap by creating a bigger picture that puts worship of Caesar up against worship of God. Neat.

This trap of trying to get you to chose between a limited set of answers is called a "False Dilemma." It's a trick question kind of thing that you have to learn to watch out for. It's been likened to facing a charging bull. If you grab only one horn, the other horn gets you. The only way out is to grab both horns and deal with them. Show that the options given are not the only options, and you have a way out. Otherwise, you get gored. You have to be aware of and consider the possibilities.

So it's a mess isn't it? How are we ever going to find the truth about anything? The answer (as if you didn't know already) is to find the source of Truth and head towards it. And that source of Truth is Jesus Christ, the Word of God. It takes time, but as long as you are headed in the right direction, you're doing as best you can. There's something else, too.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Ephesians 4:11-14 

This is the purpose of fellowship. Since each has different gifts and knowledge, we are to work together with each one sharing what the Lord has given them so that others may benefit from it. This type of fellowship is the Lord's gift to us all. He matures us not just for our own benefit, but also that we may be a benefit to others. We can draw on the experience of our fellowship to avoid the problems of limited perspective, partial views and the resulting misunderstandings.

It's easy to get the idea that what I know is what everyone else should know and anything they know that is different from what I know must be wrong. Did you get that? We don't reject the knowledge of others simply because it is different. We always compare it against the ultimate truth of God's Word as revealed to us. We make vertical comparisons between us and God, not between me and you.

What God wants me to work on may be entirely different than what He wants you to work on. So, when He gives me a word of knowledge, I can't assume it's for everyone else.

In many ways, it's like being in an army. Only the commander of the army has the whole battle plan. The soldiers are given their orders and told to carry them out. They aren't given the whole plan for at least two reasons. First, they need to concentrate on the part they need to fulfill and not be distracted with other things. Second, they can't reveal to the enemy what they don't know. So, each is given the knowledge he needs to know to do the job he needs to do.

Here's another little analogy:

I hate broccoli. I don't just dislike it. I mean, I really hate it. I don't like the way it tastes, smells or even looks. It is not what I consider "food." Yet, I have to acknowledge that there are people out there, for whatever reason, who love the stuff and will eat it whenever they can. Just because it is not food for me, doesn't mean it isn't food for you.

Of course, no one should eat rat poison. There are some things that are food for no one. This is the subtle difference we need to be aware of. It's difficult to tell the difference sometimes and it takes practice. This is the benefit of fellowship. We can draw on the experience of others to help discern the difference. There is a key that helps, too.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Above all, what we are supposed to do is to love each other. Not just put up with each other. Not be in the business of trying to make everybody else be just like me. We are supposed to love each other as Jesus loved us. This means accepting that others will be different from me in many ways. It also means realizing that they may be working on some issues in their spirit that are different from what I am working on. They will have different spiritual gifts than me and a different calling and mission in life as well. Don't get upset about this. Rejoice in it!

When you start looking at things this way, the variety in people is not something to be worried about, but something to be amazed at. God manifests Himself with an infinite variety. Each of us is a unique expression of His nature and the possibilities inherent in His nature. I think it's incredible, don't you?




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