On se fait une idole de la vérité même ; car la vérité hors de la charité n’est pas Dieu, et est son image et une idole, qu’il ne faut pas aimer, ni adorer, et encore moins faut-il adorer son contraire, qui est le mensonge.
(We make an idol of the truth itself, for truth apart from charity is not God but His image and an idol which we must not love or worship. Still less should we worship its opposite, which is a lie.) -Blaise Pascal
I have spent forty years reading and studying the Bible, with the help of Commentaries, Concordances, Dictionaries, books on doctrine, apologetics, history. Many parts of the Bible that once seemed obscure and mysterious are now crystal clear. I’m sure that I must be seeing things just the way God sees them and anyone who sees them differently is plainly wrong.
And Blaise Pascal has the gall to call that idolatry!
In truth, I am sometimes tempted to think the way I wrote in that first paragraph. A light goes on in my mind, something becomes clear to me and I am sure that I am seeing what God wants me to see. Then I think of the old tale of the blind men and the elephant. No doubt God has revealed something to me, something that I needed to see because of the trials and temptations that will come in my own life. That does not mean that I now have a clear picture of the whole elephant.
There are many disgruntled and lonely Christians, searching forlornly to find someone to fellowship with, someone who sees things exactly as they have been revealed to them. That is idolatry. I don’t believe that God is ever going to reveal all the mysteries of life and of His Word to me, or to any other individual. He shows us each a small part and as we share what we have received, we all begin to get a clearer idea of the big picture. And a greater love and appreciation for one another.
Pascal was right after all. Truth and charity are indivisible qualities of God. Some people view God as a stern taskmaster wielding a rod to strike us every time we come up with the wrong answer. Others view Him as a kindly old sugar daddy who will pat us on the head when we do wrong and tell us it’s OK as long as we love everybody. Both pictures are seriously distorted.
God tells us through His Word that we should love the truth and also love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. Even that difficult neighbour who has the loud parties Saturday night and then complains that we made too much noise when we left for church Sunday morning. Or the one who complains every time our child chases a ball onto their lawn. Or the one who complains that our dog is using his lawn for a bathroom.
Sometimes the neighbour has a justifiable complaint, sometimes not. But God wants us to love him all the time. Because He does.