1 Corinthians 13 Part 19: Putting Away Childish Things
1 Corinthians 13:11 - We see the imperfect and the partial in our childish ways and we should not satisfied.
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB1995
I’m thinking back to my Earthly life childhood today, reading this verse in 1 Corinthians 13. I was always excited about learning, coming home every day from school (elementary or Sunday) and boring my parents to death with the little minutiae that intrigued me and entered my brain. I demonstrated my math abilities or my thrill at memorizing a Bible verse or story or, in later years, when I was still immature but nearing adulthood, with my foreign language skills or my love of all things in the sciences.
My childish reasoning and thinking reasoned me right out of faith in my early adulthood. My doubts and disbelief were fueled by reading way too much science fiction and fact, driving me to “logically” assume that belief in God was a childish superstition, kept alive by people who could not face the harsh “reality” that we are primitive beings on a tiny speck floating in a vast, indifferent universe. I sat mesmerized by Carl Sagan and his series “Cosmos” and admired his agnosticism, his eloquent ability to spit into the winds of unreasonable and illogical supernaturalism (Sagan could never quite admit to being a full-blown atheist). Sagan influenced millions with his hypnotic narrations. And he did say things like this (from A-Z Quotes) that certainly made an impression on my infantile brain in an adult body (I read this now and am struck by how ignorant Sagan was about the Creator):
If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He's not good at design, he's not good at execution. He'd be out of business, if there was any competition.
As long-time readers know, Steve and I both floundered around in the wilderness of immature unbelief for quite a few years. We mocked, we greeted Christian belief with sarcasm and belittlement (not caring if we hurt others feelings), and we ran around acting like the worst members of a secular Sanhedrin. All that time, the Good Shepherd was, with infinite patience, finding little ways to remove that devilish childishness from our souls and guide us to a new, joyful (and still) childlike belief in Him and His Word.
And that’s where we are now. All believers, in this temporal plane, are in a childlike state, relying on spiritual gifts, on an inadequate expression of love, and and on things that we know in part, but not in full. We leave those things behind when we are face-to-face with our Lord and Master. I found an excellent commentary on this passage through links from Precept Austin to Bible Hub; this is from a sermon by C. Hodge, D.D., a theologian from the 19th century:
The feelings and thoughts of a child are true and just, in so far as they are the natural impression of the objects to which they relate. They are neither irrational nor false, but inadequate. The impression which the sight of the heavens makes on the mind of the child, is for the child a just and true impression. The conception which it forms of what it sees is correct in one aspect of the great object contemplated. Yet that impression is very different from that which is made on the mind of the astronomer. In like manner our views of Divine things will hereafter be very different from those which we now have. But it does not thence follow that our present views are false. They are just as far as they go, they are only inadequate. It is no part of the apostle's object to unsettle our confidence in what God now communicates by His Word and Spirit to His children, but simply to prevent our being satisfied with the partial and imperfect.
I love his comparison of the child observing the heavens and gaining an impression to an astronomer observing those same heavens. Both have a valid impression of what they see, but it is still partial and imperfect and we should never be satisfied with that. We know that we are going to someday see that which is truly complete (perfect) and likely different and most certainly better than the scraps of thought, prayer, scripture, devotional, sermon and worship song (along with the occasional science story) we have now, swirling in our childish brains.
My next devotional examines 1 Corinthians 13 Part 20: We See in a Mirror Dimly.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Please guide me ever closer to that moment when all will be made clear and we stand in your perfect love. We see things now with a limited and childish mind; we anticipate seeing things in full and are in awe of your mercy and grace towards us that we can make this journey to spiritual maturity through you. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
In 1976 we were working the Viking mission at JPL. Sagan and Gentry Lee were the leaders of science and fiction in famous guys panel discussions on Why Man Explores and Cosmos production. With my long hair and echos of Woodstock (we are Stardust) and a PhD I thought I knew it all. Looking back I can see the hand of The Spirit leading me toward Him without ever knowing Him. Later between Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) and the views of Creation from the Hubble space telescope I had to re-think it all. Today I am humble and grateful for those early experiences and have considered my views pretty childish compared to His Word made flesh. Thank God for His patience and love. I can’t begin to imagine the day when I see Him face to face.