Our Mirror World

by Spiros Zodhiates

#/Dr. Zodhiates continues to explore the implications of Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 13:12 on our future state, when we shall live eternally in the light of God's glory. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known"/# (1 Cor. 13:12). When Paul looked at this present life, he saw only an imperfect reflection of heavenly realities. It was in the life to come that he expected to see the perfection of revelation. "Now" God's revelation of truth comes to us only as in a clouded mirror, but "then" it will be like a face-to-face confrontation. Paul compares our present revelation of truth to an enigma, a riddle in which the truth is partly revealed and partly hidden. "Then how can we be sure of anything?" someone may ask. To answer this important question, let us begin by looking at it in this way: Though God in His wisdom has seen fit to give us only partial glimpses of truth, they are nevertheless fully adequate for this present life. Though we cannot see Christ perfectly now, we do see Him sufficiently well in His Word to enable us to love Him and therefore to give our hearts and lives to His service. And as we read His Word and come before Him in prayer, He gives us enough light to walk day by day in His will. He has given us, as it were, many mirrors in which to catch glimpses of truth, and these serve among other purposes to whet our appetites for the full revelation in the world to come. First of all, we see the face of Christ reflected in the Bible, particularly in those four wonderful mirrors in the New Testament that we call the Gospels, and a fifth mirror that we know as the Epistles or letters to the churches. As we reverently read God's Word and prayerfully meditate over it day by day, the presence of God in Christ grows ever more evident to us. Then there is the mirror of conscience, that sensitive reflector God has placed in our hearts to tell us the difference between right and wrong. Conscience can become dull and rusty or it can be kept polished and bright. If, when you look into the mirror of conscience, you see only the reflection of your guilt, you need to go to God for initial forgiveness and cleansing. Once you have been thus pardoned and have forsaken your sin, the mirror of conscience will shine with Christ's reflected glory as He lives His life in and through you. Again, we see the face of Jesus Christ reflected in those who love and serve Him. One Christian may particularly reflect His humility, another His courage, another His spirit of self-sacrifice, and so on, so that as we look at one another we look more and more at Jesus Christ. How wonderful when anyone can say that he has come to know God because he saw Christ in us, living His life through us! Another mirror that reflects Jesus Christ to us is the need of the poor, the sick, the downtrodden and suffering. In them we are to see an opportunity for service to Jesus Christ Himself, for He said that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned in His name are really doing these services to Himself (cf. Matt. 25:31-46). This mirror reflects the face of Christ calling us to lives consistent with our profession of faith in Him. And then we see the reflection of Christ's face as we partake of the Lord's Supper. As we come into His presence, He says, #/"Take, eat; this is my body. Drink…this is my blood…"/# (Matt. 26:27, 28). These elements of the Lord's Supper half reveal and half conceal the face of Jesus Christ. But as by faith we gaze into this mirror, we are cleansed, strengthened, and given a clearer vision of our heavenly Host. These mirrors are all included in the word "now" with which Paul begins this verse: #/"Now we see through a glass, darkly."/# They are true mirrors, but like the metal or stone mirrors of Paul's day, they can show only imperfect reflections of Jesus Christ and never the whole truth about Him. For that we must wait until we shall see Him "face to face." And when will that be? Paul teaches that a complete revelation of truth will be given when Christ has come to clothe His people with their resurrection glory. We have blessedness when we die and go to be with the Lord, but not completeness. Although Paul stated that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord, even as he faced imminent death he knew that at that time he would not receive the reward or "crown" that was promised. This must wait until the coming of the Lord. Paul wrote this very plainly in 2 Timothy 4:6, 8: #/"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand…. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."/# Paul does not necessarily mean that all possible knowledge will be at once revealed to the saints in the day of the glory of Christ, so that no new revelation of truth can ever be made to them. It is the temporary "enigma" that is to disappear in the clear utterance of truth. It is the obscure mirror that is to be put aside in the presence of His glory. But when shall Christ appear? When shall we see Him face to face? It is not given to us #/"to know the times or the seasons which the Father put in His own power"/# (Acts 1:7). We know that Christ will appear. We know to some extent how and why He will appear. But the precise period is wisely concealed from us. #/"Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven"/# (Matt. 24:36). #/"Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching"/# (Luke 12:37). We must, in our present incomplete state, remain ignorant of much that awaits us in the future-either following our translation into the world of the spirit after death, or following the glorious appearing of our blessed Lord the second time. Men inspired by the Bible have called death by many names-the destroyer, the last enemy, the angel who summons our souls, a deep dark river. But here is Paul's picture of it: a man gazing at first into a metal mirror, seeing only baffling reflections and the fantastic shapes of half-facts, who suddenly wheels around and then sees things as they really are. He sees his fellows as they are; he sees God as He is, in all His beauty. This is death. No more peering through the mists of human ignorance to try to discern the face of the Savior; but clear, immediate, direct vision-face to face. We shall see Him as He is and be forever like Him (Winnington-Ingram, "Five Minutes after Death," #/Christian World Pulpit/#, 104-6).