“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.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
1 Corinthians 13, which opens with, “Love is patient, love is kind,” is a well-known passage of Scripture for those who have grown up in church. I’ve heard this passage used a Christian weddings umpteen times. If it’s an aspiring picture of love that is totally selfless, looking to others best interests and totally free from fear.
It’s appropriate that these verses show up at weddings, as marriage is the closest picture of the love relationship Jesus wants to have with the church. Marriage is the fullest and most intimate expression of real love. As Christ pursues us, so the groom pursues his bride, eventually humbling himself to lower to one knee and offering a costly gift — the ring — which essentially claims her as his. As she accepts his gift, she says yes to a life with him, takes his name and pursues him back, they enter into a shared life of service and submission to one another. They live out the description of love found in First Corinthians.
But that’s not all. After the vows are said and the bouquet and garter are tossed, the newly married couple goes off to finally know each other as deeply as anyone can be known in a physical sense. The act of making love, which solidifies the couple’s oneness, represents a knowing that is deep and beautiful and mysterious. The deepest desires of the human souls to be known. To be understood. To be explored and found desirable. This mutual knowing is the ultimate closeness. But as the years of marriage pass, both partners realize that though they know each other deeply and they know more about each other than anyone else, there is still more to learn, more to probe. As known as they are, they are not fully known. In verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “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.”
Marriage, as well as other forms of intimate earthly love, are just a simple reflection of the love and the full knowing we look forward to. As we can’t fully know our spouse or other loved ones, we can’t fully know Jesus, but we are told that He knows us fully, and someday we will know Him. Free from the insecurities, wounds, and flawed ideas that hold us back now, free from any of these selfishness that seems so impossible to escape here in this world, we will be able to fully give and receive love. All the best examples you’ve ever experienced of intimate love and knowing all put together are but a poor reflection, like a dusty, cracked mirror in an attic. We’ve got the real thing coming.
Jesus, I am excited to be face-to-face with you. It’s hard to even fathom. Thank you for giving us pictures on earth of your love for us. Thank you that you fully know me, and that someday I will fully know you.