Fellowship of the Divided

There is a thing that has puzzled and amazed me since I was a teenager. Obviously, there is the TRUE and there is the FALSE. But, I had to ask, if it is that simple, why is it that we all don’t agree? If TRUTH is TRUTH then everyone should agree… So, for over thirty years I have pondered this. I’m not sure I completely understand even now, but this is what I do know.

Truth is not relative, but perception is. Truth is universal and constant, but language is not. Disagreements about what is TRUTH are disagreements due to perception and language. And (this is the important thing) all of our statements about TRUTH are approximations. They are metaphors and analogies at best. Consider that Jesus spoke in parables and most of what He said should not be taken literally. He spoke in words we could understand, using terms that his listeners were familiar with, but those words are an approximation that points to ultimate truth. Only when the metaphor is understood, does the mind truly perceive God’s truth. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed…”

Ultimately, all of life is metaphor of ultimate reality; it is God dividing things to express the individual attributes of His being:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

…and God divided the light from the darkness

…and divided the waters

…and let the dry land appear

…divide the day from the night

Likewise He divided life into plant and animal, male and female, body and soul. This is His creation, and it is a “dividing” of His total being. This division is purposeful; it allows all the distinct attributes of God’s being to be seen. The result is a space-time where cause and effect are separated, divided, and spread out, allowing the TRUTH of good and evil to be manifest. The totality is expressed in the unity of the diverse parts. But, there’s the rub…

Perception is limited by both space and time. What I see today is not what I will see tomorrow. My ability to describe the truth depends on where I have been, and how long I have been on the journey called life, and how much I have paid attention to what I experience. Eventually the approximation of what is the TRUTH gets better. I have more experiences to draw on and more and better words to use. And there is always the possibility that tomorrow I will experience something new that will refine my understanding. We do the best we can with words, and logic, and experience, but must realize we are dealing in the limitations of physical being.

Our statements about ultimate truth (aka GOD) must always fall short of the complete truth of His being. God, in His own being, is ineffable, infinite, and timeless. Language is inadequate, and logic falls short, when we try to describe the infinite. We must divide it into pieces and examine each piece to see the whole.

So, given that, anytime we encounter a disagreement we have to be aware that both sides may be “right” to some extent, even though they conflict, simply because both sides are making statements that are approximations of the truth, based on a limited individual experience of the total of reality.

This is why we need fellowship. Our combined experiences, and the understandings we have because of our unique individual experiences, give us a bigger picture that is a greater approximation of the truth. It’s much like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece must be combined with others to get the bigger picture. The failing of human nature is to think that the pieces one holds in his hands are the complete picture. (This is a form of “pride” and a lack of humility.) It would be much better to try and fit the divergent pieces together and see if they make a bigger picture. In so doing, we all gain a closer and more accurate approximation of the truth.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (1Co 12:4-8)

It is only when these “diversities of gifts” are combined and used together is the body of Christ effective. The battle is not to be fought against each other, but against the forces working against the body of Christ. To cut off one member is to weaken the effectiveness to stand against the forces of evil.

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1Co 12:25-27)

So, there must be tolerance for differences in personalities, differences in experience, differences in ways of expressing things. Always look for the “overlap” that will reconcile different ways of stating things, and you will find a larger image emerge.

That “image” that emerges from the body of Christ is the “image” of God that Genesis speaks about: “Let us make man in our image.” God manifests himself in each of us, but only part of His nature is shown in each. Together we see more of the attributes of the Creator, and all gain a better understanding.

Along the journey of life, that image of God is still developing, growing, casting off the false attributes created by man’s fall. So, we must be patient with one another as well. Things can change, people do change, and what we thought was complete later turns out to be only a piece of the puzzle after all.


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