Best of Daily Reflections: Knowing God Completely
Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Human beings yearn to know God. Indeed, as St. Augustine wrote, our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. Those of us who have entered into a relationship with God through Christ realize that our knowledge of God is incomplete, and we long to know God more truly, deeply, and intimately.
First Corinthians 13:12 describes our present knowledge of God with a metaphor that we might not at first understand: "Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror." The original language could be translated, "For now we see through a mirror in a riddle." The Greek word ainigma stands behind the word "riddle" or "cloudy." Ainigma is the basis of the English word enigma, and it refers in Greek to something puzzling or unclear. The point is that our knowledge of all things, especially of God, is not complete or clear.
In order to understand this metaphor, we need to realize that mirrors in the ancient world were not like today's mirrors. They were made of polished metal, and therefore offered an indistinct and somewhat distorted image. Corinth was, in fact, well-known for its brass mirrors, a fact that Paul might have had in mind when writing verse 12.
Though we know God today, our knowledge is like seeing our reflection in a steamed-up mirror. But the day will come when "we will see everything with perfect clarity." We will see God, not indirectly and imperfectly, but "face-to face." We will know God fully, even as God knows us fully today.
What a day that will be, when we stand before God, knowing him completely, understanding that which confounds us today, experiencing the full force of his tender love. The hope of knowing God this way sustains us when we're uncertain, when our faith is battered by objections from without and doubts from within. May this hope encourage and energize you today, as you seek to live in relationship with God, serving others in his name.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What increases your desire to know God? What parts of the "riddle" of knowing God are especially real or troubling to you? How does the hope of knowing God completely impact your faith?
PRAYER: Gracious God, how thankful I am that you have made yourself known to me. Thank you for those who have taught me your truth over the years. Thank you for faithful churches in which I have encountered you in worship. Thank you for your Spirit, who whispers in my heart. Thank you for your written Word, through which you make yourself known in truth and power. And thank you most of all for Jesus, the Word of God Incarnate, who reveals your love and grace.
As grateful as I am for the gift of knowing you, Lord, there are times when I am frustrated by what I do not know. Sometimes my knowledge of you is indeed like looking in a steamed-up mirror. I know you're there, but I can't see the details very clearly. There is so much about you that I would like to understand.
May I continue to grow in my knowledge of you. May I be patient when I encounter that which I cannot know now. May I be filled with hope as I think of what it will be like to see you face-to-face. Amen.