Paint the Whole Picture

In American when we hear the same story with a different emphasis and from another perspective, we sometimes say of the person who told the “other side of the story” – “that’s not how he painted the picture.”  That’s what happens in theology and in art sometimes too.  One part of a thing gets overly emphasized and you only get “part of the picture.”

For example we “paint part of the picture” when we choose and proclaim or portray one truth over the another:

Richard Dadd painting "Contradiction: Oberon and Titania." Photo by Henry Hering, 1856. Public domain

We say: We choose God.

John 3 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB)

John 12:46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” (NASB)

OR we say: He chose us. 

John 17:1-2 “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.’” (NASB)

John 15:16  “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (NASB)

We say:  It’s okay to do good deeds in front of others.

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (NASB)

OR we say:  It’s not okay to do good deeds in front of others.

Matthew 6:1  “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (NASB)

We say:  If we follow Jesus, we must hate others.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (NASB)

OR we say:  We can’t be followers of Jesus if we hate others.

1 John 2:9 “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.” (NASB)

We say:  We are saved by faith plus works.

James 2:24  “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (NASB)

OR we say:  We are saved by faith alone –  our works are insignificant. 

Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (NASB)

We say: People killed Jesus.

Acts 2: 36  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (NASB)

OR we say:  God killed Jesus. 

Acts 4:27-28 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” (NASB)

If we want to “paint the whole picture,”

we must acknowledge that both truths are true because the Bible is true.  We can choose God because he first chose us.  We are to do good deeds in front of men to glorify God not ourselves.  Our love for others demonstrates our love for God but is like hate compared to our love for God.  We are saved by faith alone demonstrated by our works.  Out of their own intent, people killed Jesus because God ordained that they would.

Sometimes statements that seem to be in opposition can be reconciled by acknowledging our own predisposed way of thinking that leads to unnecessary conclusions.  Other times we must look at the way a word is used in different context, look at the context, or engage ourselves in even deeper study.  But the one thing we cannot do is throw out one truth for another.  This is true in art and it is true in our worldview if we want to be faithful to “show the whole picture.”


There are times when we may want to emphasize one truth over another for effect, but we must think and work from the perspective of the whole truth and somehow we must tell it.

“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Photo by Henry Hering of Richard Dadd painting “Contradiction: Oberon and Titania,” 1856, Public domain.

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