In an ancient village, a parable tells, all the people were blind. One day while walking on the road, six men from that village came upon a man riding an elephant. The six men, who had heard about elephants but had never been close to one, asked the rider to allow them to touch the great beast. They wanted to go back to their village to tell the other villagers what an elephant looked like.
The rider agreed and led each of the six men to a different part of the elephant. All the blind men touched and stroked the elephant until they were certain they knew what the animal looked like.
In great anticipation they returned to their village to report their experience. The villagers gathered around to hear about the elephant. The first man, who had felt the animal’s side, said, “An elephant is like a great thick wall.”
“Nonsense,” said the second man, who had felt the elephant’s tusk. “He is rather short, round, and smooth, but very sharp. I would compare an elephant not with a wall but with a spear!”
The third man, who had touched the ear, took exception. “It is nothing at all like a wall or a spear,” he said. “It is like a gigantic leaf made of thick wool carpet. It moves when you touch it.”
“I disagree,” said the fourth man, who had handled the trunk. “I can tell you that an elephant is like a giant snake.”
The fifth man shouted his disapproval. He had touched one of the elephant’s legs and concluded, “An elephant is round and thick, like a tree.”
The sixth man had been allowed to ride on the elephant’s back, and he protested, “Can none of you accurately describe an elephant? Clearly he is like a gigantic moving mountain!”
To this day, the men continue to argue, and no one in the village has any idea what an elephant looks like.
The Bible describes God in many different ways because He is experienced in many different ways. He is the Creator of the Universe, but He is also the faithful friend. He is the righteous judge, but He is also the forgiving Father. For us to understand God, or for us to understand the Bible, we must carefully study the Word of God in its entirety. Whenever we perceive only one view of God, or one view of the truth, we are likely to be misled.
One of the reasons that so many people still don’t understand the Gospel is because Christians can’t agree on what it is. As Christians, we must strive to find the common ground between us and to present a united front to the world. Jesus prayed that all of us may be one: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23b).