I’ve been thinking this week about what happens when we try to understand a situation or person without taking the totality of the Big Picture into consideration. If we’re not careful, we can be quick to prejudge or evaluate a circumstance based on a very limited understanding of the information available to us. It truly can be a “can’t see the forest for the trees” type situation. Or like looking at one puzzle piece out of 500 and thinking you can adequately experience the whole scene. Seems kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?
People are complex. Life is messy. Not one of us is the same, has gone through the same set of circumstances, responded in the same way, learned the same lessons…every interaction and situation is different…because, when you are dealing with people (who God has made uniquely according to Psalm 139) variables will always be different. That is the nature of how God has made us. And it makes life interesting!
So here is the danger…
The Bible talks in the Old Testament about a man named David. God called David “a man after his own heart” and exclaimed that he would carry out His will (Acts 13:22). David did a lot of great things for God. From a young age, he appeared to be patient, brave, bold, loyal, steadfast… He was one of the greatest leaders God’s people ever had. Jesus Himself would be born from his lineage. David also did some not so great things. One of the most memorable recorded was that (and by any account, this is big) he had an affair, got the woman pregnant and had her husband killed. David also experienced a time of remorse and repentance for those actions. After some time passed, he continued to experience great successes for the Kingdom of God. He also had more screw ups.
We can look at Peter – one of Jesus’ closest friends. He was part of the inner circle. He saw things and understood things that no one else did and yet he denied he even knew Jesus when the rubber met the road. But God was able to somehow get beyond that seemingly unforgivable act. Do you get it?…he denied he even KNEW Jesus…much less followed His teaching and example. Yet, Jesus knew even before this gross indiscretion that He would build His church on Peter. Build. His. Church!!
There is Gomer – a known prostitute. Called to marry a Godly man only to cheat on him and sell herself into prostitution again. The woman caught in the act of adultery. The woman at the well who had been married several times and was shacking up with her current lover. Jesus told them, go and sin no more. You are forgiven. I see the totality of who you are – including the very motivation in your heart (my paraphrase).
Can you imagine if we only considered the slice of David’s life involving the adultery and murder and not what he accomplished for God’s people? (again, not implying that his indiscretions were small things). If we didn’t get past Peter’s denial to see what he did to advance the cause of Christ? If we told any of those women, you will never be more than your past mistakes. There is no hope for you. You have disqualified yourself from service to – or even love from – God? If we basically wrote off each of these individual’s entire ministry and service to others based on one snapshot in time of their life? What if God did that with us? What if God biopsied parts of our lives to examine, evaluate and judge us on and we had no control over which very specific parts He chose?
Too often we do that to one another. We decide “this person is this…based on this.” End of story. Do not pass go. Zero grace. Zero mercy. Zero desire to understand or see the Big Picture and totality of a person’s story. We are more than the sum of our parts – our often fragmented, jagged, seemingly worse-for-wear, sometimes even ugly – parts.
I’m grateful that God didn’t do that with David and I’m grateful He doesn’t do that with me. I would hope people would consider the whole of my 43 years as they seek to know and understand me. I pray that I can do the same for others.
Now we see but a dim 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 13:12