Flourescent Lights and Full Clarity
My kids all play travel soccer, so between the occasional tournaments and my business travel, it seems I’m in a hotel somewhere at least once every couple of months. Last week I was at a tournament with my son and when I went to put my toiletries (is there a less feminine-sounding term that men can use? Something without the word toilet in it would be nice too. Chime in below if you have suggestions, please!) in the bathroom, I noticed something in the mirror. I had more grey hair, more wrinkles, and more freckles in the hotel bathroom than I do at my home bathroom. What gives? Did I pass through a time machine or wormhole on the way to our soccer destination?
Nope. It’s all about the lighting. Those fluorescent lights in hotel bathrooms are like a surgeon’s medical lamp shining on your face with the brightness of the sun. They show everything. Complete clarity.
Sometimes clarity isn’t good, such as in the case of my recent self-realization boot camp of a hotel stay. But when it comes to our faith and the questions we all wrestle with, clarity is a good thing. The reality is we don’t have much clarity now. As much as we study. As much as we learn, fellowship, mission-trip (yes, I used that as a verb), worship, grow, and struggle—we actually still only have a small amount of clarity. Don’t believe me? Check out this verse.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)
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.
See. There it is. We see things partially. Imperfectly. Puzzlingly. I normally don’t use the NLT to make a theological point, but in this case I checked out the Greek words used and this is actually a great rendering of the original text. The word used for “puzzling reflections” (or in other translations “dimly”) is a word that means “riddle.” Right now our understanding about God as revealed in Scripture is still like knowing a small riddle-like portion of the full truth.
Some of this is because of our fallen nature. Some of it is because God is mysterious. Some of it is because we can’t handle the truth (If you are old enough to recognize that line from a famous movie raise you hand). Some of it is because God wants us to live by faith. It pleases him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him“.
Another verse the Lord has been encouraging me with lately is John 20:29 (NIV) which reads, “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.‘” BECAUSE we don’t have crystal clarity, we will be specially blessed for believing without seeing.
This doesn’t mean Christians are to check their brains at the door. It means we analyze evidence in the light of Scripture to verify it is true. The more we wrestle with doubt and get answers, the more solid our faith becomes. I can’t prove anything in the Bible in the scientific sense. Undeniable proof is only repeatable in a controlled environment. Aside from that, facts are known through patterns of evidence.
I don’t have the smoking gun, but I can show you the bullet holes. I can’t raise Jesus from the dead again to prove it, but history (from biblical and exta-biblical sources), eyewitness testimony, scriptural reliability, and other factors convince me—and have convinced millions of others. Sorry, rabbit-trail—but a necessary one I think. My point is we will be blessed in some special way BECAUSE we see dimly and puzzlingly now, yet because of the evidence we do see, and because of our hearts that seek God, we believe with the core of our being.
There is so much more to dig into in this short verse (1 Corinthians 13:12), but the main point I want to direct your attention to is found in the second part of the verse, and it’s this— when we, as believers, see Jesus face-to-face, everything will make sense. The text says, we will know as we are known. The Greek words are even stronger than that. Based on the Greek, the THV (Todd Hampson Version) would render this section, “at the exact moment we see Jesus, we will fully understand just as fully as we are known by Jesus—who created us!”
I’m an artist and have worked on all kinds of projects from water color paintings to ten-minute animated shorts and I can tell you this: when you painstakingly create something, you remember every detail. Don’t miss this. Jesus knows everything about you more intimately than you know yourself. He created your cells. He ordained your steps. He produced your personality. He knows you. Really, fully, knows you.
This verse tells us that we will know AS WE ARE KNOWN. Among other things that means you will finally and fully understand why that terrible thing happened to you years ago; why you have been fighting a life-long battle against that sin; why you were born when and where you were born; why your childhood was the way it was; why good people we love still reject Jesus; why there is a place called Hell; why God allows evil and suffering in this current age; why that job, good health report, or reconciled relationship didn’t come through; why that long, tough struggle occurred, and so many other questions.
Take a second and answer this. What is the biggest doubt, question, struggle, or confusing thing about God that weighing on you right now? You will understand that FULLY the moment you see Jesus. In the mean time, trust that he knows what he’s doing and that he is perfectly just. Even that thing you thought of will one day make sense!
This verse tells us beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we will understand all of these things and more the moment we see Jesus face to face. When is that you ask? As a believer you will see Jesus at the moment of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) or when you die (2 Corinthians 5:8), whichever comes first.
I believe the rapture is imminent, meaning it could happen at any moment. There is nothing else Scripturally that HAS to happen before the rapture. Also, we are not guaranteed our next breath. We don’t know the day of our death, but it is sweetened by the fact that we will see Jesus face to face and at that moment have perfect clarity. Trust me, it will be a lot prettier than what we see in the lighting of hotel bathrooms.
So, I’ll be packing a small lamp with a standard 100w light bulb to set up in the bathroom on my next trip. OK, not really, but you get my point. The hotel-bathroom-lighting kind of clarity may not always be a good thing in this life, but the clarity we’ll have the moment we see Jesus face-to-face will be. Let’s determine to live today for THAT day.
If this encouraged you, please feel free to share it with others. This is an important truth that is easy to miss.