Mind the Gap

A young child sat on his fathers lap and asked him, “Daddy where do babies come from?” His father pondered the question a moment, deciding how much detail his son needed to know at eight years old, and replied, “They come from loving mommies and daddies”. Most of us can relate to this scenario. All of us have probably been that child, and many of us have been that parent. Do any of us remember, at this young age, our parent sitting down with us and pulling out a medical reference book and going through all the scientific detail of how babies are created, complete with pictures? Were we then asked to ponder and think through all the reasons and evidence first before making our own opinion on the subject?

Now considering our experience with how our parents explained things like this to us in the past, would we now look back and consider our parent a liar? Should a good parent have pulled out the medical reference book? Should we have been given the chance to ponder all the evidence before coming to our own belief about the subject? Did our parents love us less because they didn’t give us all the details and time to answer our question for ourselves and completely?

How many of us have jumped into a pool or leaped over an object on the ground and did so knowing that leaving the ground in our vault would only be followed by the inevitable return of our feet to the ground (or water)? Did our innate trust in and experience of gravity depend at all on our detailed understanding of its physics? In order for us to live as if gravity is real and trustworthy do we demand to understand all its aspects, where it comes from, how it works, and why it should be trusted? Do we attempt to reconcile all the theory and science behind it in our minds, and turn it into a neat system of belief where every detail and question is answered and accounted for?

I think we all would agree that it is non-sense for the parent to explain, in medical detail, the process of baby making to an eight-year-old, just like it is silly to want to know all the evidence and theory behind gravity for us to accept its truth. We think these two examples are silly and absurd, and yet we expect God to explain to us things, in detail, that we would think is wrong for a parent to explain to an eight-year-old, and silly for a person to expect of things like gravity.
We are that eight-year old child before God. What I think we have forgotten, is how much greater and incomprehensible God is compared to us. We cannot know anything about God unless He reveals it to us, and what He reveals to us we cannot fully understand (at least yet), and so he condescends to us and speaks to us as that parents speaks to his eight-year-old child, in baby-talk. How silly we would think that child, who just had baby making explained to him as “coming from loving mommies and daddies,” to then go out and try to build a whole detailed explanation of baby making to all his friends. Looking from our perspective we can see that the parent wasn’t lying to the child, but neither was he being completely truthful. That parent was protecting his child from information that the child couldn’t maturely handle nor appropriately understand yet, and we do not blame the parent one bit. How much are we like that child?

God explains things to us (that we can neither handle maturely nor appropriately understand in complete detail) in enough detail now so that we can get by and accomplish His purposes for us. Yet, we are like that child, and after hearing God tell us things in very brief detail, we then go out and try to create whole logical and rational systems to understand every bit of it, and all this from just simple details that were not meant to be expounded upon. The example of this I am thinking of specifically is God’s revelation of His sovereignty, and our moral responsibility. Scripture clearly teaches that God is sovereign, and that humans are morally responsible; it doesn’t really try to reconcile the two in enough detail to make any rational person 100% satisfied.

Could it be that God is explaining Himself in baby talk? Perhaps we cannot reconcile the two because God hasn’t given us enough information to do so? Possibly it is true that God purposefully gives us simple, and not complete explanations for things He reveals to us. If it is true that such revelation is baby-talk, then wouldn’t we be foolish to try to understand it in details beyond what God has given? How many people have fallen into serious error because they added (necessarily and logically in their opinion) to God’s revelation in order to satisfy our natural desire for things to fit neatly together? I am specifically thinking of philosophies like Pelagianism, Arminianism, Modalism, or Fatalism who have all erred because they couldn’t trust the gap, or mystery that God has left us in his simple (and not complete) explanations of things He reveals to us.

Let us ask ourselves what is the purpose of the Father with his child? Is his only goal to have his child know all the facts, and details of everything he knows or is it for his child to know his love for him and hopefully gain his child’s trust and love in return? If our human parent’s primary goal isn’t to teach us every detail of knowledge and understanding in the world, but rather love us and desire a relationship with us, they why do we think God is any different when He created our parents in His likeness and made them that way? Is it right for our parents to have the primary goal to love us and care for us, and not tell us every detail of every fact, and yet it isn’t right for God?

Why do we key desiring to know everything for ourselves instead of trusting those who love us and are in authority over us? Is this not the hallmark of arrogance and stupidity that we think something is only worth accepting or believing if we fully understand it ourselves? How stupid (and hurt) would the child be who upon hearing his parent yell, “STOP” didn’t immediately stop but continued in his current behavior and began to engage his parent in a deeper discussion about the meaning of “STOP”, what are the reasons the parent thinks the child should “STOP”, and are those reasons reasonable to the child so that he may decide for himself if he should stop or not? We know the outcome of such a scenario: that child, who didn’t immediately trust and obey his parents without a full understanding of their motives, their knowledge, and their reasoning, would have been hit by that truck coming down the road.
How often are we like that child? We hear what God says to us in His word, and instead of just trusting Him at His word, we demand that we first have time to break it down, understand every little bit, evaluate it ourselves, and then decide if it is something we think we can believe. What foolish children we are to first assume we can understand fully every detail of what God knows and shares with us, and second that we think He is sharing the revelation in that sort of way, and third, that He expects us to evaluate it upon its merits and with our finite, corrupted by sin minds, before we accept it as true and trust Him. No, I think God has given us plenty of reason to trust Him at His word with no further inquiry required – Himself given to us in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Of course there is a difference between trusting a word because we trust the person behind the word (i.e “STOP), and then after believing and obeying, learning more about the details behind such a word. I am not advocating that we completely turn off our minds to the Word of God and reason and just blindly follow what He says without further inquiry. Rather I am saying that the belief in what God says, shouldn’t be reliant upon our further investigation and our own reasoning as to its validity. Rather, if God says something in His word we do not fully understand, we first are to believe it (after we are sure we are interpreting what He said right: I.E understanding correctly the message – did we correctly hear our parent say “STOP” or did we wrongly hear and he really said “FLOP”?) and then we can work to further understand it, but only within the bounds of the information He has provided. We believe God’s word is true first because we believe and trust God, not because we have fully explored and validated every bit of information God has told us (do we believe God created because He says so, or because we feel we have studied Creation enough to validate God’s Word?). This isn’t to say that after believing God at His word we are not further validated and encouraged that our believing God is justified when further details and facts come in to support what we first believed.

It seems to me that our belief in God is first based on a relationship to God and our knowing and trusting Him. Just like a child trusts his parents first because he is their child and in a relationship with them, but as he grows older he starts to learn that his parents actually do have facts and reason to back up their beliefs and demands upon him. So likewise we trust God because He is our heavenly Father who has given us the Holy Spirit to confirm our status before Him, and later on we see that He is correct in what He tells us through our own observations and study, but we first obey Him because of the relationship and trust Him at His word because He is trustworthy not because our rational, and logical mind has worked out all possibilities and has studied all the evidence and has proven to ourselves God is right. Let us be like the Child who immediately trusts and obeys his parents at the word “STOP” and then after sees the truck go by and is increased in his trust of his parents love and care for him and knowledge beyond his own.

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