I Corinthians 13:8-13 ...
BETTER A PART THAN A PARTITION
BETTER SET ALIGHT THAN SATELLITE
BETTER A FLAME FROM THIS FIRE
THAN A BLAZE FROM ANY OTHER
It is usual at Easter to consider the Cross,
but this we consider almost without ceasing.
Instead, this Easter, we will consider
the love that sent the Victim,
the love that sustained the Victor
and the love which all who participate in His victory
must exhibit, as they await their own bodily resurrection,
in the day which draws near like an express train,
the thunder of whose wheels
already echoes in the valleys through which it passes.
God SO LOVED that He sent. Christ's love passes knowledge, sublime.
Consider the way of it in the heart who has Him!
"Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail;
whether there are tongues, they will cease;
whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when
that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child,
I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
I THE MEANING OF PART - 8-9
Having showing the method of working, the class of categories, the ways of life of love, the Lord through Paul then moves to its eternity, immoveability, sheer splendour. What more wonderful than the written word of God, but God Himself! Indeed, it shows WHO He is, WHAT He wants and the WAY of life. Yet, like a car rushing through the night, at last approaching a city, as dawn first arises, and the night lights fade before the splendour of the day, so when the fulfilment of this life, in heaven, at the coming of Christ for His elect, will come, then even the written word of God will yield to the day's direct vision, just as one treasures a fine photograph until one MEETS its subject!
If a wife treasures her husband's photograph while he is away at war, she will still treasure its faithful depiction when he returns; but then, then she will no more need its outlines because the MAN HIMSELF is there!
Christ's dying was the opening of the door to day! It evacuated the night and assured the day its reality.
II THE WONDER OF PART - 10-11
So at the return of Christ, the Man of Sorrows, the One Acquainted with Grief (Isaiah 53) will come in the robes of royalty, and in that sense, the depiction yields to His own face. Tongues of praise by faith will become tongues of praise by sight! Knowledge, so precious, as it is a barrier between light and darkness now, the knowledge of spiritual things, it will yield to open-faced and direct observation!
The resurrection, moreover, the very body moving irresistible from the tomb, the guards suppressed in awe, is an index to the vast transition which awaits us all who are His, who believe in His resurrection, not a shadow or spirit, but triumphant as HUMAN in form, divine in power. In the very midst of the lowering evils of our calamitous day, where night rises at sunset to seek its spiritual nadir, reversing its physical role in the spiritual realm, so also will there be a COME UP HERE! a call from Christ. The bodies of His believes will be torn from the earth by His truth, just as He arose from the carefully constructed and immovable conditions of His enemies.
Then ? What light makes awe its captive at this twinkling of an eye resurrection!
Paul then uses the illustration of a child becoming, in time, a full-grown man. When a child, did not one's thought have a certain ... simplicity, being clear and sharp, yet not comprehending as it now is at maturity ? Manhood, maturity, however, meant that the preliminary clarity becomes a broader awareness, a surer understanding and while the sheer extravagant wonder of BEING A CHILD was a joy, yet the strength and sagacity, if the Lord will, of being capable of the rounded orb of thought is rather like moving from some bush waterfall to the Victoria Falls. One looks aghast in wonder at the sheer power and magnificence of it all. One does not disdain what went before; but now sees its perfection.
Easter reminds us all that this stark contrast is to be instituted in a moment, at the resurrection.
III BEING PARTIAL TO THE WHOLE - 12
The other day as I shaved, there was a degree of misting of the mirror. Hence there was, certainly a clear outline of my face and adequate access to it with the blade, yet a certain obscuration, or diminution. When however the mist was wiped away, how clear!
So now in this our little day, it is as in a mirror that one sees; but then, at His coming, at the resurrection, at our advent by Him into heaven, when the COMPLETED and FINAL (the Greek term is of this kind) is come, then the flower is at full bloom, the day is at noon, perfection has arrived in realisation. Then Revelation 22:1-4 declares it, we see God FACE TO FACE, then the limits of the mirror become the glory of the personal majesty of God, complete, unmoved, not as in a vision, coming and leaving, but permanent manifest! Then, says Paul in I Cor. 13, then, I will know as I am known.
No satellite, you become established in heaven itself as a child of God!
The stores of reality will be opened up. Whereas before there were tins of sound nourishment, now the eye roves and the feeding is full, for manifest on all sides is the startling splendour of God Himself, and person to person communication is unsullied, unlimited, undimmed. As the depth of a chasm appals by its going downward, so the glory of God exhilarates by its supernal heights that do not end.
As Paul explains in I Corinthians 15, then as in a moment, when the resurrection occurs, we are changed, this corruptible putting on incorruption, like a raincoat to cover the body, enveloping, this mortality finding the gift of immortality, while victory over sin, death and the limitations of discipline are permanently expressed; and as in the spectacular rejoicing in Melbourne, that one remembers after WW II was over, so there is in the resurrection, such liberty and joy and triumph at the work of faith in the Crucified Christ, yes and more, for that was temporal, this is eternal, that was for the time, this surpasses all time.
For this, the Cross was the first instalment, and their sin finds its sink, grace its peak and love its revenue; and His resurrection is the final exhibit and His coming the recognition of the redeemed, Himself their passport into heaven, as previously into the kingdom, in which many have worked for many years.
Who would not be partial to that! But first, be partial to Christ, whose it is (cf. John 16:13-15), and in the power of His Spirit, operate NOW as a child should, of such a Father as that. You are not alone! He has not left you an orphan! (John 14:18).
IV JOURNEYING INSTRUCTIONS - 13
So now, abide in Him,
with faith to receive Him, His power, His Spirit;
with hope to look for this glorious transition to come, like that of a dragon fly from its pupal stage, to the shimmering new wings and wonderful eyes that see so much with hundreds of lenses!
Especially however, abide in and with LOVE. It is the greatest,
and it is this which led to your redemption if you know Him,
and points to it, if you do not.
It is not just human love, which is an index of its source, any more than a waterfall IS the stream, but simply its mighty work at one juncture.
Many may confuse drains with waterfalls, so great is their confusion and limitation. When however you know God, the source and original of life, from whom all human love takes its meaning, there is that immediacy and purity, that inspiration with majesty and delight in His design, there is that sheer appreciation in all the vitality He gives and that desire to maximise your service for HIM who so served YOU, that being kind and not seeking your own fulfilment, power, excitement or dream, but pleasing Him: it is this which becomes as natural as breathing.
Just as that at times may be difficult, however, therefore be careful to maintain your spiritual lungs with much deep breathing of pure air, the environment of God, the grace of His Spirit, the Gospel of His grace, the prayer of depth. Knowing as a Christian, if you are one, that this is His gift, eternal life (Romans 6:23), irrevocable (II Timothy 1:9-10), supervised (John 10:9,27-28), rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1).
FILL the spiritual lungs, for rendering more exuberant the life which serves Him and seeks the good of His body, His Church: and this, not by pretending any part pure when it is not, nor yet carping, but by being charitable and involved, as in your own body, fearless for the truth, unremitting in conscientious labour; and with HIMSELF as your head.