My wife and I are greeters at our church, and we absolutely love doing that. But as the pandemic paranoia unfolded, I realized that my role as a greeter began to feel different. It wasn’t that I didn’t still love exchanging words of welcome and a comment or two with those who were coming in, but something was definitely missing. We were still speaking to each other in a face-to-face posture, but we weren’t really “face to face” anymore. Our faces were obscured by the ubiquitous COVID mask, and when most of our face is hidden, much of what God designed our faces to reveal remains hidden as well.
A Fresh Realization ~
I hadn’t realized before the pandemic that one of the things I love about greeting people at church is actually “seeing” their faces. The recent furor over the mask mandate for those using public transportation reminded me of how much I had missed that during those restrictive times. In those days, even though I might have been standing in a face-to-face posture with someone, we weren’t really “face to face” anymore, and there’s a price to pay for that. Faces can be indicators of a kaleidoscope of situations, conditions, and relationships that cry out to be noticed. Sometimes God uses those unspoken messages to unveil His will for those involved.
Clearly, there’s a lot that can be gleaned from observing our appearance, and that’s lost when that option is removed, but national interest in our faces isn’t relegated just to the issue of masks and mandates. Our faces are primary indicators of our identity and they validate who we are. It’s one of the major parts of our body that we choose to reveal to the world around us. Small wonder, then, that most of us are fairly concerned about how they appear to others. A recent study concluded that average American women spend over $3,500 a year (!!) on their appearance, most of which is devoted to facial products and procedures. But we’re not the only ones interested in what our faces look like, and neither is vanity the only issue driving that interest.
Potentially Disturbing Developments ~
An incredible investment of creative energy and money is being poured into refining and expanding facial recognition technology and developing new ways to apply it. Some of those applications are helpful, like having our cell phone turn itself on when it sees our face. Others are not so welcome. Facial recognition technology has opened doors for invading our lives and engaging in unacknowledged and unwanted surveillance activities that threaten both our privacy and our freedom. Others can be watching us without our knowledge or permission at times and in places we might not expect. That can be problematic.
The fact that our faces present information that others interpret might be good when it comes to folks in church who care about us, but others may not have such altruistic motives. Judgments are being made simply because of where our face shows up, what emotion it seems to project, or the color of our skin. The disturbing reality is that we have little to no control over the forces behind those who are looking at us. So does that leave us without recourse or direction? Hardly.
The One Most Interested ~
In spite of all the attention devoted to them, God is more interested in our faces than anyone else. Think of it . . . Most of us came into this world face first, as it were, and the face God gave us at birth is destined to be presented directly to Him when He calls us into His presence. There are endless implications associated with faces and countless ways we use them, but there’s a clear and overriding directive that God gave us about what to do with ours. A couple of classic examples of a facial procedure of vital importance follow below. He gave them to us to improve our lives every day and in preparation for the day when we will stand before “His” face.
Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! (I Chronicles 16:11 NKJV)
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)
God isn’t being narcissistic when He tells us to seek His face. Looking into someone’s face can initiate and reinforce communication, but it can do even more than that. It can open pathways over which love can travel and begin to do what God intended it to do. Facial contact can begin to knit hearts together and build a framework for unity. And if that’s true even on a human level, imagine what can happen when one of those faces is connected to a heart that loves like no other. What incredible potential exists when we overcome that fear and remove all our masks. What profound transformation can result when we honestly gaze into the face of the One loves us not “because of” but “in spite of” all that was hidden beneath. That’s what the Apostle Paul had in mind when the Spirit of God inspired him to write things like this to the believers in Corinth:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV)
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV)
So, whether or not our face has a COVID mask on it isn’t the most important issue. Neither is the number of times it shows up on social media . . . or even how well our moisturizer is working. It’s not what we put on our face or how many others see it that can transform lives and change the world around us. It’s Who is seen shining through it when they do.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “God isn’t being narcissistic when He tells us to “seek His face.” Looking into His face can open pathways over which love can travel and begin to do what God intended it to do.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Face-to-face contact can begin to knit hearts together and build a framework for unity. And if that’s true even on a human level, imagine what can happen when one of those faces is connected to a heart that loves like no other.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “What incredible potential exists when we remove all our masks and risk exposing a face that wants to hide more than it wants to reveal.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “What profound transformation can result when we honestly gaze into the face of the One loves us not “because of” but “in spite of” all that was hidden beneath.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “It’s not what we put on our face or how many others see it that can transform lives and change the world around us. It’s Who is seen shining through it when they do.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
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© 2022 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
Another poignant, honest, and heartfelt post my friend. You touched my soul with this one. I’ve thought about how many times I’ve plastered a fake smile on my face in this world, hoping to hide the hurt, anger, fear, or disgust I was feeling. And while that may have worked with people, it has NEVER worked with God. When I look upon His face, He doesn’t see me the person, He sees the heart of one of His beloved children (at least I believe He does). He knows what we’re hiding behind the masks we wear every day. What a great analogy! What are we masking in our lives? As always my friend, you caused me to pause and reflect upon the deeper meaning behind your message. Such a blessing sir. God’s blessings in return to you and your dear Ms. Diane. Hoping all y’all have recovered from your amazing trip to Israel.
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The day always gets brighter when we hear from you, J.D. Your comments never fail to add insight and depth to anything I’ve tried to say, and they reinforce our awareness of the incredible heart of God toward unworthy sinners like us and how He manifests Himself in our everyday life. And to add a personal note, Diane and I have been praying for you more than usual lately. Other than the normal pressures and challenges that come with running the Cross-Dubya and keeping up with those who depend on you, I don’t know what kinds of things you might be dealing with, but whatever they are, you have a couple of folks who love you up here in middle Tennessee who are under it with you. God is using you in a unique way to make His truth known and to keep His light pushing back against the moral darkness surrounding us and we take great joy in watching Him do that. Lord willing, I’m getting my one natural knee replaced in a few weeks (total joint replacement #6), and when I get past that, the next pilgrimage we’re planning is to the Holy Land of Texas. Consider yourself warned.
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