Love changes people. I once saw this happen to a college professor. He was known to be an exacting instructor with very little patience for the typical foibles and half-hearted efforts of the average college student. Scheduled to take his class in the fall, I received multiple warnings from my peers. Some encouraged me to switch before the new year began. Others said that I might learn a lot, but that I shouldn’t expect a good grade. I am not sure whether it was negligence or courage, but I took the class anyway. He was one of my best professors. He certainly challenged his students, but his approach was compassionate and attentive (he also had a great sense of humor). When I related these impressions to my friends, they were shocked. We found out later that he had fallen in love and was engaged to be married.
Love makes people come alive. This simple truth lies at the heart of what God was doing through his Son: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God, desiring that we “might have life and have it more abundantly,” invited us to life by revealing his love (Jn 10:10). A man comes to love a woman by first knowing her, and that knowledge then changes his whole life. Similarly, one comes to love God through his Son who makes God known (Jn 1:18). Knowing Jesus is to love him, and that love makes one live forever: “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Love makes us live. God’s love makes us live eternally.
It was beautiful to see the changes love worked in my professor’s life. It made him flourish. It made him more deeply human. Knowing someone, loving someone, face to face as it were, had transformed him. Yet, a deeper transformation still lies in store for him and for all. God desires that the quality of love that typifies married love, will one day characterize our relationship with him: “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face” (1Cor 13:12). God desires that the depth of personal knowledge characteristic of married love will one day characterize our knowledge of him: “for we shall see him as he is” (1Jn 3:2). Knowledge and love of another transforms us. It changes us. The deeper the knowledge, the richer the love, the more profound is the transformation. What then will it be like when our knowledge and love of God is perfect? What then will we be like?