Thursday, March 28, 2013
Knowing God's Love
I Corinthians 13
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Throughout the Scripture we are encouraged to seek the face of God. There is something about actually being able to see the face of God which speaks to us about our participation in God. We know in the Old Testament that if anyone truly looked upon the face of God they would die. Moses who spent a great deal of time in God's presence speaking with God was so covered with God's glory that the people could not look on him and he had to wear a veil over his face. If this is true for Moses who was simply in God's presence, how much greater is the glory of God that we cannot look upon his face and survive. Therefore in this life we can only look upon him as if through a reflection in a mirror, anticipating the day when we can look upon him face to face. However, that becomes our goal -- to be able to be united with him until we can see him face to face.
Therefore, while in this flesh, we will know in part -- that is, we will know God and his nature in part. But there is the beauty. We can know his nature now and we can begin to get a taste of what it will be like when we will know God fully. And that little bit of a foretaste of his nature that is brought to us in this entire chapter -- for his nature is pure holy love. That's why Paul completes these chapter with the fact that there are three things that remain -- faith; faith in Jesus Christ and who he is -- hope; a hope for a future with God -- but finally there is love, and no wonder love is the greatest for this is the nature of God poured out and revealed in us. There is nothing greater than the "stuff" of God. Paul's point is that the people of God were hanging onto the things of the world, the behaviors, attitudes and things the world had to offer, but they were not focusing on the ultimate goal which is to become like Christ and that means to partake of his divine nature. If his nature is love, there is nothing else!
No wonder this chapter becomes the climax of his letter to the Corinthians. He's been talking to them about all kinds of activities within the church and the community surrounding them. He goes from immorality, to discussions of how they are having communion to spiritual gifts…and then ends up here talking about love. But isn't this a bit of our conversations today as well. So often we are hung up on the distractions of the debates that rage around us and the enemy uses them to keep us from the real goal. It was happening in Corinth -- why do we think we would be immune to it today?
So often we try to explain Christianity away in negative terms -- what it is not! This chapter turns it all around and describes it in terms of what it should be.
Sadly we have misconstrued what Paul means here by love. We have this human understanding of love -- this do good, feel good, let everybody do what they want kind of luv. My husband likes to call it, "I luv my truck" love. This is what the world understands and sometimes it's what we tend to accept as well. That is NOT what Paul was talking about.
Paul was saying to the Corinthians and to us as well that the focus of the Christian life is not supposed to be on the exteriors but on participating in the very nature of God. Our goal -- Christlikeness -- comes out of participating in the divine nature of holy love. This is a love that is so pure and powerful that it makes all the arguments of this world pale in comparison. Therefore take time to seek what God has in store for each and every single one of us, which is participation in his divine nature. That concept may seem difficult to us today and just as Paul said, it's like looking at the image and it isn't clear and yet, some day it will be and we will understand completely and fully. In the meantime, don't let the distractions of the world's arguments keep you from the goal. Seek him, seek his face, get to know him, spend time with him, and allow his love to flow into our hearts and lives and his grace will take us through the journey of interacting with the world.
Lord, may I know your love. Amen.