Theological Jigsaw

As well as re-learning how to play patience, the current season’s inactivity has been sated by a jigsaw. Shortly after childhood’s passing, I reckoned these puzzles to be monotonous and wearying; middle-age and a lockdown have caused me to reconsider this ruling. The prompt was my receiving one for Christmas, a 1200-piece map of England and Wales charting the various historical landmarks and places. I made a few rookie errors, like starting on a table too small and thinking I’d have it done within a day. Three weeks later and it is finally complete. Several times, I was adamant that there was a piece or two missing, that I must have dropped some on the floor or that a manufacturing mistake had been made when a piece wouldn’t quite fit. Time and patience proved that the puzzle was compete and that all pieces would fit in somewhere. Those that looked obscure and characterless still had a part to play in completing the whole.

I wonder if the jigsaw is a fitting analogy for theology, especially biblical. I led a session explaining the very basic tenets of Christ’s second coming last month. I courted little controversy, avoiding most supposition and claims which could not be backed up except by the most explicit scriptures. Other issues I sidestepped or offered several views. Apostle John wrote about a figure called the antichrist, Paul the man of lawlessness and Daniel the boastful horn. Somehow, they are all connected, but whether they all closely fit together, describing the same individual I am not entirely certain. Similarly, Paul tells the Corinthians that one day, God’s people will judge or govern angels. What form or expression will this take? Does he refer to the fallen ones or all of them? We do not know. The Bible gives us a number of key pieces of theological truth but their exact combinations and relationships are not always clear. Likewise, there are significant gaps in our knowledge which our current pieces cannot adequately fill. Though the gospel is itself wonderfully clear, the whole array of spiritual reality is not laid out before us like a completed picture. Unlike my map of England and Wales, it is eternal and uncontainable, incomprehensible to we of ignorant and finite mind.   

In heaven, I have no doubt we shall understand a thousand times more than the cleverest sages and wisest prophets of earth. Yet even there I am not convinced we shall understand everything, such as why He chose to save us, unprofitable as we are. Heaven would have been just as spectacular and majestic in our absence; the angels would have provided far better oratorios of praise than we could ever compose. God is the self-contained One, requiring no other one or thing in order to exist. Yet He chooses to share His heaven and vast riches with we poor vessels of clay. That, I shall never understand.