Now we see but a poor 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 Corintihans 13:12 NIV
I love metaphors. You won't read too many of my blogs or articles before that becomes very evident.
A metaphor is a tool storytellers and writers use to paint a word picture to clearly explain an abstract idea to listeners and readers.
For example, my pony metaphor. A wild horse needs to be tamed before it is useful for riding. And most creative folks know what it feels like to have all that creative, emotional energy raging inside, like a wild horse. Raging emotions can cause lots of trouble, but as a creative grows in and develops his discipline, those emotions and raw energy get channeled and expressed through his art and he finds great fulfillment. His "pony" was tamed and is now useful!
Metaphors are comfortable, because they are all around us. ... we literally live inside a metaphor! Our very bodies are a metaphor! And the abstract idea that all these metaphors are illustrating is the gospel ... the story of a Creator pursuing His lost prodigals in order to restore them back to Himself. The "pictures" of this are everywhere ...
– The sun sets and rises; death in winter and new life in spring: pictures of death and the new birth, Resurection.
– The moon and sun: the moon has no light of it's own, but reflects back the sunlight that shines on it: a picture of us reflecting back God's glory, because we have no glory of our own without Him.
– A seed is buried in the ground and sprouts to life: a picture of our old selves dying and being buried, but alive again to new life in Christ.
– Gravity: it holds us on the earth, keeps the planets circling the sun and keeps the whole universe spinning. If gravity was removed, we and the earth would careen off into space and the whole universe would be in chaos. It's a picture of Christ, who holds all things together. Colossians 1:17
– Light and dark: light a match in a totally dark room and see it yourself ... light always overcomes darkness. A picture of the guaranteed victory Christ has over sin.
– Our work: our finite world is subject to physical laws, like the second law of thermodynamics which states that a system left to its own will always move toward disorder and decay. "Work" is the action we take to restore order. For instance, ignore your house for a few weeks and it will get dusty and cluttered. We have to work to restore it back to a clean, orderly state. It is a picture of the ongoing redemptive work God does in us as we cooperate with Him to work out our salvation. Every time we engage in work, we are a picture of Christ restoring order to a dying and chaotic world.
– The family structure: a picture of how the Trinity cooperates within itself with the 3 parts to accomplish its purposes:1. The Authority, God/Father, who creates and supplies an environment where work and purpose can be accomplished.
2. The Enabler, the Holy Spirit/Mother, who nurtures, guides, teaches and supervises the work and purpose being carried out.
3. The Worker(s), Christ the Son/the children, who learn and grow and carry out the work and purpose.The children learn their roles, grow up and begin the cycle all over again. Of course, in our broken world many homes have only one parent who struggles to fill 2 or more of those roles. Many couples are childless. Some people never marry. It doesn't matter. We're not all spouses or parents, but we're all children. The structure is a space where we can grow up, find God and discover what is His path and purpose for each of us individually. It's an imperfect picture here on our sinful earth, but a picture nonetheless. When people within the structure are absent or abuse their roles and cause harm, we hold them accountable. Part of our purpose and work is to rally around single parents and hurting children to help fill in the gaps. When we get so hung up in endless debates about gender roles and who answers to who, and who's responsible for what, we've missed the whole point.– Our earthly life process of being born and growing up: Christ saves us and we are considered righteous immediately when we accept Him. But just as a child is born and grows up into an adult, we have to grow up in Christ. An 8 year old isn't ready to function as an adult. And likewise we have to live out our earthly life, growing and maturing in Him until we are prepared and ready for eternal existence with Him.
– Our very bodies: a picture of the tabernacle: the outer court is our outer, public selves; the inner court is our private, intimate world we share and commune from with family and intimate friends; and the Most Holy place is in our spirit where we commune one-on-one with God. In Moses' earthly tabernacle – another picture! – the high priest could only enter the Most Holy place once a year and only after with he had been cleansed of his sins by a blood sacrifice. That's a picture of Christ's perfect blood sacrifice that only had to be done once for all time. When we believe and accept His sacrifice for ourselves, we are cleansed and given Christ's righteousness as our own, and now we can enter our Most Holy place and commune with with the Father at anytime in a relationship that's so intimate that in Romans 8:15 He invites us to address Him as "Daddy!"
He is so holy and so "other" from us, and we are so vile and corrupt, that we cannot tolerate His presence. To be in His presence as we are would mean annihilation for us. We are eternal spirits trapped in a finite physical world because of our sin. It was an act of mercy for God to place us here while He's working it all out.
Just like a lover away on a trip and far away from His beloved, He's left us a love letter – the Bible – explaining all that He's about and that we'll be reunited soon.
Some of us haven't received the letter ... perhaps it's lost in the mail, or laying unopened under a stack of old bills. Maybe we live in some remote location that doesn't receive mail at all.
He's left dozens and dozens of little love notes all around for us to find. Tantalizing love notes – the pictures we see in creation all around us – designed to draw us back to the One who loves us like no other and who wants us back.
We truly are without excuse.