The mirrors in Paul’s day were nowhere near as clear as they are now. Today’s mirrors of silvered-glass were made in 1835 by German chemist Justus von Liebig. More recently, some of us have even been known to use our cell phone cameras as mirrors (so I’ve heard…). Even so, mirrors are incredibly limited. You can’t see everything in a mirror that you can see in person. With a wide-angle lens you can see much more, but then the image is distorted. No, nothing is quite like the vision of reality.
Paul uses the image of a mirror to describe how distorted and limited our vision is of God’s reality. This world is cloudy and restricted. We think we know what love is. We fall in and out of love. We “love” our tech. But what we know of love is inadequate. God’s love is so clear and perfect compared to what we know of love, we will never be able to see how beautiful love truly is – at least not until we see Jesus face to face. Then we will know love. In the meantime, I am quite content to love and be loved, even if it isn’t perfect. Yet.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.