Monday, November 13, 2006

ambiguity

12 For now we see only a 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.

1 Corinthians 13 (TNIV)

The mirrors of Paul's time were not the mirrors of today that give us an undistorted image. You caught only a distorted view of the real image, but would have been better off peering in a pond on a placid, sunny day. Paul's point is for us now. We need to learn to accept living with ambiguity.

Somewhere in Scot McKnight's new book, The Real Mary, Scot speaks of the ambiguity Mary had to live with, in her faith. She had received God's words, and accepted them, and taken them to heart. But as the life of her son unfolded, the promises from God were not being fulfilled in the way she supposed they would be. And though she stumbled over what her son was doing, she learned to become a follower of him, as her Lord. In that following, to the very end at the cross, she experienced ambiguity. Yes, she followed on. But, no, she really didn't always understand.

Paul, even post-resurrection and post-Pentecost, says that this side of the kingdom come in Jesus, we too must be willing to live with a true measure of ambiguity. We too must put our faith in God and in his promises. But we too must acknowledge that we really don't "get", oftentimes, what God is doing. We catch only glimpses of it here and there (as Scot points out).

This is surely a part of our walking/living by faith and not by sight. (Paul) This ambiguity helps us to hold on and cling to God as a person. Whom, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit we are getting to know and learning to live in dependence on.

Together we need to accept and own that we don't know it all. That we're always in need of our Lord. And of each other in this life of faith. That we will cling to God and his Word, in faith. And seek understanding from him through the Spirit and as part of our Lord's Bride. We learn, not only from the Lord, but from him through each other. As we remain true to his Word, and seek, in faith, to act on it.

Mary did so. Sometimes mistakenly (as in Mark 3:20-21,31-35). But like her, we need to stake our lives on this faith. Even though we live with uncertainty, not having all the answers about our own lives, much less the bigger picture. But confident that God's will in Jesus will be done in this world. And that we live to be a part of that. In fellowship with our Lord, and with each other.

How do you see ambiguity? How is this a challenge to your faith? In what ways does this experience of ambiguity help us grow in our faith? (a paradoxical question, to be sure)

4 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

When I was younger, the ambiguities of my faith were a stumbling block. But now I wouldn't have it any other way. What kind of God would God be, if He could be completely mapped and understood?

Anonymous said...

confusion is confusing. I agree with the above comment. Ambiguity helps us to surrender and trust God more often and fosters an attitude of gratitude. I don't like it but it's one of the things for maturity.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Well said. I do think as we get older in our following of Christ we can come to realize that more and more. Yet at the same time some things become clearer. Yet at the heart of it, for me, as far as how things are "falling out" as in taking place, there is a strong sense of ambiguity. Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Anonymous,

Well said. Yes, confusion at times. But a kind of peace and security is often there, at times, and somewhat throughout, as well. But with those seasons of uncertainty, and at times confusion.

That's the kind of walk of faith in Christ that we're on.

Thanks.