By Michael Kelley
Imagine with me a room. There is no wallpaper, no rugs, and nothing at all inside the room except for one solitary object placed in the middle of the floor. There is a plain white sheet covering this object. And as you enter into this room, you are instructed to speak out loud exactly what that object is, only you cannot take the cover off on your own.
This, of course, is a problem. You can walk up to the object. You can observe some very general characteristics about it. You can, for example, say roughly how size it is. You might even lean close to smell it and see if it gives off an odor. But what is it? You cannot say.
It is orange or purple? Is it living or dead? Is it round or square?
You can only speculate about what it might be, and what it might be like. You are, at that point, dependent on someone taking the sheet off of the object and revealing exactly what is under there.
In the absence of revelation, we always revert to speculation.
This is the way of all things, for we are by nature curious creatures. And while that curiosity might serve us very well in other realms of life, God does not intend that we live in speculation when it comes to Him. This why He has given us Jesus. He is revelation, and we no longer have to speculate. So says the writer of the Book of Hebrews:
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him (Heb. 1:1-2).
And again the Apostle Paul, when speaking to the Athenians who made a lifestyle of all kinds of speculation:
The God who made the world and everything in it—he is Lord of heaven and earth—does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:24-27).
Here we find the great irony all around us. That though revelation is at our fingertips, we still choose to live in speculation. Or, to return to the metaphor, though the object has been uncovered, we put our hands over our eyes so that we cannot see. And why might we do this?
Perhaps it’s because we are infatuated with mystery. Or maybe it’s because we are so prideful to think that we have to find something for ourselves. But I believe it’s far more base and selfish than either of those reasons – we opt for speculation when there is revelation because we know that revelation brings accountability.
If God has revealed Himself through His Word, and once and for all through His living Word, than we are accountable to that revelation. But we would much prefer to search on and on for some kind of speculative view of God that agrees with what we want. We want, in other words, a God of our own making rather than the revealed God of the Bible and in Jesus Christ. So great is our commitment to our own desires and sin.
So God says to us, the people of speculation, to turn our eyes to what has been revealed:
Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Eph. 5:13-14).
Michael Kelley is the Director of Groups Ministry at Lifeway and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life
By Michael Kelley