It’s Friday morning and I am thinking on the life of my friend, Robert Sweet, who passed away last evening. In the eyes of the world, Robert was a simple man, unassuming, never seeking any glory or recognition for himself. Never any effort to stand out from the crowd.
He had a long and varied work history, having worked at many trades during his life. He had worked as a bellman in an old-style hotel in his earlier years in West Texas; he had worked as a municipal employee in Washington state; he had been a cook; owned his own barbeque and catering business; worked as a foreman for a firm that built mobile homes; he had owned and operated a detail shop at which folks could have their cars made almost new; he even worked in a bank in Sweetwater!
He did these jobs to earn a living and provide for his family, while he did his main job . . . preach the Gospel. Robert was a bi-vocational preacher and his flock was scattered across West Texas. He typically would learn of a struggling small Church that could not afford a Pastor, so he would answer their call and start a meaningful work. The Lord would bless the work and after a while the Church could call a full-time Pastor. Robert often would leave home at 7 am on Sunday morning, preach in six or seven different Churches and return home at 10 pm that evening . . . the love offerings from the Churches were rarely enough to even pay for his fuel. That never caused Robert to complain or question the Lord . . . he was delighted to just tell folks about Jesus.
Robert always lived in a modest home, generally drove a used automobile, and from all appearances just barely eeked out a living. As I have reflected on his life, my thoughts turned to 1 Corinthians 13:12 – 13, where the Apostle Paul wrote about the Christian life . . . and the most important things . . . chief of which is love. He wrote about this life and said, “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. And now faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
What was it that Paul meant? The ‘glass’ of which he spoke was actually a mirror . . . the mirror of the ancient world. Those mirrors were of polished metal, in many cases they were of brass and they required constant polishing, so that a sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally attached to it. This was the mirror of which the apostle Paul who wrote this famous passage in his letter to the church in Corinth, which City was famous for the manufacture of these kinds of mirrors. The images reflected in those old brass mirrors were indistinct in comparison to our modern mirrors of today.
In that ancient mirror, the revelation appeared indistinctly, imperfectly. Paul is telling us that this is the state of our knowledge of divine things–imperfect and incomplete. “Now I know in part,” Paul mourns. There were limitations upon the knowledge even of Paul; only a part was seen. But wonderfully, it will not always be so. One glorious moment in the future every single human being on earth will suddenly face Him — Jesus – without a veil, without obscurity . . . but face to face! That is what happened for my friend Robert!