Read John 14.

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me, and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. (John 14:21)

What does Jesus mean by saying that he will reveal himself to those who love him?

Thomas Merton writes,

In the strict sense of the word, contemplation is a supernatural love and knowledge of God, simple and obscure, infused by Him into the summit of the soul, giving it a direct and experimental contact with Him.

Mystical contemplation is an intuition of God born of pure love. It is a gift of God that absolutely transcends all the natural capacities of the soul and which no [one] can acquire by any effort of [their] own. But God gives it to the soul in proportion as the soul is clean and emptied of all affections for things outside of Himself. In other words, God is manifesting Himself, according to the promise of Christ, to those who love Him. Yet the love with which they love Him is also His gift; we only love Him because He first loved us….

But the thing that must be stressed is that contemplation is itself a development and a perfection of pure charity. [One] who loves God realizes that the greatest joy, the perfection of beatitude is to love God and to renounce all things for the sake of God alone—for the sake of love alone because God Himself is love. Contemplation is an intellectual experience of the fact that God is infinite love, that He has given Himself to us, and that from henceforth love is all that matters.*

I love that word intuition in this context. If tuition is teaching, maybe intuition is teaching inside you. God himself puts knowledge of himself directly inside you. Contemplation is knowing God because he reveals himself to you. This is not knowledge you may have heard or read somewhere and internalized. This is not knowledge you come to by thinking hard and figuring things out and reaching some conclusions. This may not even be knowledge for which you have suitable concepts and words. This is intuition.

And this intuition is directly tied or related to love. It comes through love. It is of love. It is love. To love God is to know him, and to love him perfectly is to know him perfectly, to be one with him. And to be one with him is to love the world the way he does—to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the perfection of joy and beatitude.

But this is not where we start, or where we are now. This love must be born and grow. Childbirth is not all sweetness and light—it is very painful. Or so I have heard. Seeing God is death. As we see God’s holiness and majesty, as we see ourselves, we are humiliated. Undone. Mortified.

As your love of God grows, you will feel an increasing desire to renounce all things for the sake of God alone. As your love of God grows, love of other things fades. Riches? Pffft. A good reputation? Bzzz. Entertainment? Yaaawn. A comfortable, easy life? No—“I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.”

The resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting. Loving God.

Every day, pray for more love, that you may suffer and die with Christ and attain to the resurrection of the dead.

*What is Contemplation?, Thomas Merton, Templegate Publishers, 1981, pp. 38-39.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and