How the Bible is Like a Mosaic
Easily one of my favorite kinds of art is known as a mosaic. If you don’t know what a mosaic is, you should google it! But to try to describe it, it is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, or glass. It is a plethora of pieces, or even small portraits, forming a grand picture from it all when you stand back and see the totality of it.
The Bible presents a mosaic of who God is, and each book of the Bible contributes a piece, a portrait, with its own contribution to the whole. So, the whole Bible is a single picture, a mosaic, and each book of the Bible has its own portrait depicting God. It is, simultaneously, a one-single story from Genesis to Revelation, but composed of a library of individual books. It is one epic saga, with sixty-six volumes.
When I first realized this it really revolutionized how I read the Bible. First, it highly emphasized making sure I was reading the Bible with God as the main character of the story. He is the only one that is central to the story no matter what book of the Bible you are reading! Secondly, it also made me learn how to read the Bible more responsibly, looking closer at each book (each portrait) without losing sight of whole canon (the mosaic).
Which is an idiomatic way of saying that when we get too caught up in the details we can end up losing sight of the whole. Well, I only have a slight critique of this phrase. I don’t see this as an either/or. I am an advocate of digging deeper when it comes to our exploration of the Bible. Yet, we need to keep in mind the grand picture Scripture is painting, especially when it comes to revealing who God is!
We have to hold the mosaic, and each individual frame, in tension. For example, we cannot isolate Jesus’ title as “Son of God” without also holding it in tension with Him as being “Yahweh.” We cannot hone in on His humanity to the exclusion of His deity. We have to appreciate what each title, role, and portrait of God has on its own merit, while not detaching it from the other portraits in the mosaic. The grand view will never fail to deliver a more accurate view of who God has revealed Himself to be!
As we read (and re-read) the Bible, let’s try to identify each book’s “portrait” of God. Conceivably He is pictured as the “Creator of the Cosmos and of Covenant” in Genesis. We could see Him as the “Living Hope” in 1 Peter. These can be phrased in many ways. Get creative! And enjoy the challenge as the New Testament reveals God’s triune nature. The fact that He is triune (“Trinity”) should make this all the more fun to see how the portraits of God the Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit are distinct but also harmonious in depicting a monotheistic God. But that is way too deep for this blog post! And yet that is the point. The Bible is an artistic masterpiece. Let’s learn to see it as a mosaic, looking closely at each individual frame, and always stepping back to see the totality!