But Then Face to Face

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

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three

But the greatest of these is love    1 Corinthians 13:12-13

The Bible tells us that now we see things in a way that resembles a dim reflection in a mirror. In Paul’s day it was common to use a polished bronze plate with a handle as a mirror. The reflection was both a little distorted and colored by the metal. The image was more or less true but still just a partial reflection of the true face.


In Paul’s letter he is comparing that partial vision we have now, to the day when we will see face to face. Importantly, Paul does not say we are seeing a false image, simply a partial one. As Christians we see the general outline and some of the details, but one day we will see the full and perfect reality just as God does.

So how does God expect us to live since we have such a dim vision as we battle through today? Paul reminds us that while we do not yet see things as God does, we are left with three imperishable treasures: Faith, Hope and Love. When our mirror reflects dimly and we do not understand the trials and difficulties of today, Paul reminds us that God has given us faith to face them. When people or things we have always counted on change or worse, seem to fail, Paul tells us that God has provided an eternal Hope that will never fade. For moments, hours or even years when we battle rejection, mistreatment and physical or spiritual attack, he brings to memory the love, that bears it all, believes always and endures to the day of Jesus Christ. We see  today just a pale dim reflection, but one day we will see it all perfectly, just as God sees us now. We will understand it all then, but now we live by faith. We will possess the promises in their fullness then, but now we put all our hope in the God of those promises. We will be received into the loving arms of our Father on the day we pass through heaven’s door, but for now whether we are honored or despised, praised or criticized, accepted or hated, we stand by the love of God. He loved us and sent His only Son for us that when we believe in Jesus Christ we receive the reality of that greatest gift of all: the love of God!

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure            1 John 3:2-3