I was reading the apostle's Paul's first letter to the Corinthians last week and came to chapter 13, the great love chapter, a chapter I have read hundreds of times. The following statement jumped off the page at me:
1Cor.13:12. 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. NLT
Here is the leading theologian of the Christian faith, who met the risen Christ personally, who visited the third heaven to receive direct revelation from God, and who knows more than most of us will learn about the ways and purposes of God in a lifetime … and he has the courage to say that he does not see things perfectly (or as the NKJV says, "we see in a mirror, dimly") and that all that he knows is "partial and incomplete".
Paul knows he doesn't know it all … and he doesn't need to either. I am sure he would have liked to have known but he was content to leave the full knowing to God. Here is a faith that is willing to live with mystery … and one that includes paradox, ambiguity and even contradictions. Paul doesn't have to figure everything out or control everything in order to believe … and to fully trust in God.
Here is a man with unbelievable humility! What a contrast to the pride and arrogance that is too common in Christianity today, with so many individuals and groups thinking they have a corner on the truth and that those who don't see things their way are heretics.
This is not a commendation of ignorance nor a denial of the importance of truth. It's a reminder that truth is found in a Person (Jesus) and none of us know it all, which means we need to walk in humility and be willing to learn from each other. It requires that we trust God in areas where we don't understand. That's what faith is all about. There are certain things that reason cannot explain or comprehend.
Oh, and did I mention that Paul earlier (vs.2) elevates LOVE above everything else – including having the gift of prophecy, understanding all of God's secret plans and possessing all knowledge (something that he goes on to say none of us do)?
Ah, the joy of not knowing it all … and not having to. I can rest and put my trust … in Christ alone. Paul – may your tribe increase!