Reflections on Love

Posted: 3rd March 2011 by iBarnabas in Growing Deeper
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I read 1st Corinthians chapter 13 tonight. This is the chapter known as “the Love chapter” because in the 13 verses it describes some of what Love is and what it isn’t. I’ve read this many times before. Tonight I found something somewhat new. Verses 1 through 10 talk about what Love is and isn’t and verse 13 sums it by saying that “faith, hope and love” live on but that Love is the greatest of the three.

Just before this poignant conclusion verses 11 and 12 describe us. Not in contrast to love but about our nature. The way we grow into our understanding of things.

“11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11,12 ESV

Verse 11 is pretty easy to grasp on the surface. We all understand that we were once children and have grown up; (mostly we give up ‘childish ways’). What this verse does is set up our mind to the evolution of our way of thinking about love. Preparing our minds to re-consider our understanding of what love is.

Ask anyone if they know what love is and most will say, “of course!” Ask them to tell you ‘what it is’ and most will take a long pause. Love is complex and can be quite challenging and confusing. Just ask any middle-school boy or girl about love and see what you get. When we fall in love we’re often grappling to use the word love; because we’re often not certain if this is truly love or is it strong infatuation or just lust or a crush.

Sometimes, I think, we need to take a moment to re-check our understandings of some of the fundamental things in our lives like, faith, hope and Love. We understood something about these as a child but as we grow older we need to challenge our old ways of thinking, put away our childish understandings and make room for a broader understanding.

Thinking this way I found myself approaching verse 12 differently this time. Especially, for me, the first part where it says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” In previous reads I took this to mean simply that we only get part of the picture and as we mature, as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we begin to see more clearly – as Jesus sees clearly. But this time I saw something else.

My wife and I quietly celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this week. Thirty years ago I remember sitting at a red light in Gainesville, Fl. in my old rust-bucket VW Bug in very deep thought. I was feeling something welling up in me that I hadn’t experienced before. I took a few deep breaths, checked myself in the rearview to see if I was serious about this, and turned to my beautiful girlfriend. I said, “I, … I, …”

She took advantage of my long pause and interjected, “Don’t say that unless you mean it!”

I took another breath and let it fly, “I do. I love you!”

Here’s the thing, I meant it at the time. I did feel love for her. Enough to start our relationship down a very different and sometimes scary road. I felt something that my heart could only explain as “love” and ran with it. The ironic thing is that knowing what I know now, thirty years later, I really had no idea what love was. I’m glad I took that plunge and confessed my love. I just acted on a very limited understanding of what love was or could be.

This part of this verse says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” When I look into my mirror I see me. And you see you. Nestled here in an outpouring of descriptive language about what Love is we have a pause to consider what you look like in a mirror. Could it be that we’re not simply suppose to think abstractly that we’re just too dense to understand love or could this be a challenge to look at, well, an example of “LOVE” in the mirror?

God is love and as we grow in our relationship with him we take on more of who he is. We become more like him. When we study Jesus and do the things he did, and challenged us to do after him, we become more like him.

When I saw myself in my rearview mirror in my VW is saw, dimly, the face of a young man falling in love. When I look in the mirror today I see, more clearly, an older man who is even more in love and who understands more of what love is.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” – as we grow closer to God we begin to take on the face of God – the face of love. For now my reflection, while clearer than it was thirty years ago, is yet to be a true (face to face) resemblance of the love of God. But it gets clearer everyday.

Have you checked on your image of what love is lately? What it could be? Do you see the love of God in your reflection? Does your spouse?

Faith, Hope and Love live on and on. Yet we must continually reach for these. These are all parts of who God is and who he wants us to be. How he wants us to reflect ourselves to others. Faith and Hope help us to trust in God and grow closer to him. Love is the greatest of these because love is the core of who God is. And love, is the reflection he wants you to see in your mirror and others to see in your face.

Take another look in your mirror and ask God to reveal himself in your reflection. You will love the way you look.

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  1. He gave us no finite definition of love so we can all achieve it! Love you.