Both faith and closure depend on sensory input. Unfortunately, senses alone create a fragmented and incomplete concept of our world. What do we do with those random bits and pieces of known and unknown? By nature, we fill in the gaps between what we know and what we don’t know from previous experience.
We define this human phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole as “closure.” Usually, our definition of closure falls between the limited boundaries of ending a business or relationship. The full sense of closure reaches much broader than that, however.
As we begin life, our minds largely resemble a blank slate. Of course, our natural senses already became activated in the womb. Once we exploded into the world, sensory overload kicked into high gear. Bright lights and dark shadows, cold air and warm touches, unmuted sound (including our own screams of panic), and smells both pungent and subtle. Neither faith nor closure existed for any of us in those early moments of life.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a 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 13:11-12
Paul affirms the ways of childhood give way to adulthood — as do thoughts, speech, and whole waft of other developmental attributes.
Most of us have played peek-a-boo with a child. The child saw our familiar face. Suddenly, we hid behind a blanket, causing the child brief but great concern. As soon as we showed our face again, the child responded with equal delight. Gradually, he/she learned that even though they could not see our face, we were present — hidden from view but with them.
Innocently, those first simple faith steps of a child began. Drawing from experience, he/she believed you were present and available. The child’s ability to create closure — to finish the picture in his/her mind even though all he/she saw was a blanket — required faith in its simplest form.
Spiritual faith follows a parallel journey as we learn that although we cannot visibly see God, His Presence is tangible and constant. Spiritual senses develop through similar childlike steps.
All too often, however, we take giant leaps in our attempt to “finish the picture,” recreating God in our minds.
In 1 Corinthians, the great love chapter, Paul warns us about this premature propensity toward closure. He reminds us that we don’t fully know the whole story or see the bigger picture. At best, we see God and our world in fragmented pieces — like a half-painted portrait.
Other Bible translations phrase it this way:
- “we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections” (NLV)
- “now we see through a glass in obscurity” (BLB)
- “we see through a glass, darkly” (KJV)
Yet despite our blurred context, we adopt faith and closure, framing everything and everyone around us by previous limited experience.
Even though much of life (let alone God) remains a mystery, we involuntarily close the gaps of time and space between known and unknown with great leaps of faith. For Christians, faith is mandatory to our belief system.
Many people in Jesus’ day attempted to create closure apart from faith. They nullified the mystery of God by leaning toward presumption, misconception, or even error. Examples regarding Jesus are many:
- Some accused Him of performing miracles through Beelzebul, the prince of demons. (Matt 12:24)
- Religious leaders tried to stone Him, believing He was a mere man, claiming to be God. (John 10:31-33)
- His own family thought He had gone completely mad — out of his mind. (Mark 3:20)
That’s only the tip of the iceberg of accusations and misunderstanding. Though people witnessed the miracles and heard His teaching, without both faith and closure they came to faulty conclusions of His person and ministry.
Seen and Known
To a lesser degree, we’ve all fallen victim to similar judgments and misunderstandings of our motives and actions. We’ve probably also been guilty of forming false assumptions about others. Paul offered the Corinthian church this wise advice,
“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time — before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”
1 Corinthians 4:5
The Lord Jesus, who knows all things, will reveal every hidden piece, every secret portion. He will unveil the completed canvas. Then, there will be no misunderstandings, misconceptions, or errors. Everyone will clearly see and be fully known. Faith and closure blending in perfect unity! No presumptuously filling in the gaps or judgmental conclusions.
Just as faith develops in a baby through experience over time, so does closure. The more we come to know the heart and ways of God, the longer we walk this journey called the Christian faith, the greater our perception of Him, our world, others, and even ourselves becomes.
With both human and spiritual sensory inputs functioning to a greater degree, we become increasingly capable of successfully navigating the circumstances of life. Even then, we always remember that we only know and see in part.
Jesus’ disciples tripped and faltered as they continually attempted to bring closure where there wasn’t any. Some assumed they would sit at His right or left hand in His Kingdom (Mark 10:37). Others concluded the disciple John would never die (John 21:23). They often attempted to squish Jesus into their religious or political paradigms. Despite His warnings, they all believed they would never forsake Him (Matt 26:31-35).
We too dangerously combine faith and closure in misdirected ways. How few Christians in North American believe trouble and persecution will intrude upon their comfortable lives? Many believe Christianity equates to entitlement regarding health, wealth and ease. What percentage of the population falsely believe access to heaven comes through good behavior and honorable intentions?
Here we see faith without justified closure.
Only One Person capably closes such gaps — Jesus Christ! In Him is the pinnacle of both faith and closure, eradicating every misconception and all error. In Him is absolute fullness and completeness.
In every way, this familiar passage applies.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
When we direct our eyes and hearts exclusively to Him, allowing Him to reveal the full picture, we release the need for premature closure and by faith trust Him with all outcomes — large and small. Then, with childlike enthusiasm, we will rejoice as He reveals the full image both in our lives and in the lives of others.
We will never panic like a little child playing peek-a-boo. We will possess an assurance, fear from all doubt, He is forever present, though unseen, in the twists and turns of life. Only in Jesus Christ comes faith, knowing He will put all the pieces into perfect union and bring closure to the mysteries yet to be revealed.