“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.”
~1 Corinthians 13:12a (NRSV)
“He who loves cannot be satisfied if he does not feel that he loves as much as he is loved.”
Re-reading the above Saint John of the Cross quote sufficiently to understand its eternal truth, upon serene rumination, helps us understand the love-gap we experience in this earthly life.
We cannot love God as God loves us; not here, not now.
Only at Glory will we reach the perfection of love that is, at last, the equal of God’s love for us. Then, and only then, will we be eternally quenched in worshipping the Lord aright.
The perfection of love in Glory means all things, not simply love, and the Hope to which all of this pertains, hardly captures a minnow of measure, here.
An Illustration of Human Love
If we consider the nature of this love-gap—us and our ever imperfect devotion before God, in mortality—it may be hard to fully reason it. An illustration helps.
When we contemplate the overtures of love sent forth our way by those that love us, we, of a normal moral capacity, wish to meet them at their level of love or clearly exceed it, upping the ante. Inwardly, we’re not happily content to leave the manner of someone’s blessing us at that—the law of reciprocity, common in social psychology circles, kicks in and, even subconsciously, we want to bless them back. Such as this is, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8) and it continues on to the blessing of all in that relationship.
If, in our human relationships, we have no way of repaying the love bestowed, we might find that an incredible frustration. Such is the grace of God, though, we are blessed in that our inability to love God back according to the way God loves us is not a constant inhibition to us. Life is made tolerable despite the existence of such a divine love-gap.
Love for God – Like Looking Through a Mirror Dimly
This love-gap is, according to 1 Corinthians 13:12a, covered beautifully as a metaphor for looking into a mirror that is enticingly impossible to see reflections through. We are enchanted by love, never escaping its tantalising grasp, yet we have no way to its perfection. In other words, with such love in focus we cannot help but gaze longingly into the inscrutable mirror.
Looking into the mirror itself is known as a riddle—such love (and other things of God) cannot be known in their reflective perfection this side of eternity.
These facts beckon us toward patience; we will enter Glory soon enough. There, all processes of love, grace, and maturity of character will combine unto spiritual perfection. And though we will never be on equal terms with God we will be able to love God, by our worship, as God loves us.
Oh the Hope of Glory! At last, home, having been away seemingly so long, we will have full capacity to love God. Such perfection awaits, and this is hope beyond any living fear for death.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.