Faces. Masses of humanity in myriads of colors and shapes. Everywhere. There is no escaping the mess of breathing, living beings.
And sometimes that’s exactly how we see these faces. They mean nothing to us but another unknown person. We are apathetic because strangers don’t concern us.
Or maybe they are cause for anger, annoyance, or fear.
We fear what we do not know or understand.
We are unmoved because they are unknown.
Until they are more than faces.
In the past few weeks, I have had the honor of really meeting some people. People with names, dreams, likes, fears, lives. People with faces.
It is hard to be indifferent once you’ve met someone.
Faces are doors to the soul. Stories are painted on canvases of humanity. Joy and sorrow dance on the same backdrop. On faces. We read faces in the exact same way we read books.
Faces are important to God. Seeking the Lord’s face is referenced several times in the Bible (1 Chron. 16:11, Ps. 27:8, 2 Chron. 7:14). And being made in the image of God, faces should also be important to us. In the Psalms, David pleads with God to not hide his face from him (Ps. 27:9, 69:17, 102:2).
God wants us to turn towards him—face him. Come to him.
In return, we want to be seen by him. To followers of Jesus, there is nothing quite as awful as the feeling that God has turned away from us. Pain and suffering are easier to bear, if we know that we are seen. That the face of God is looking at us. We need the light of God’s countenance to rest on us.
Likewise, we want to be seen by our fellow human beings. We need to tell our silent stories. Naturally, we long for others to look us square in the face, to acknowledge our existence, to simply see us.
And that is exactly what we should be doing in return. Honor the breath of God in the lungs of strangers by acknowledging their existence, their importance as God’s creation, their worth as people that Christ died for. We need to see them until they have faces.
See them to hear them to know them.
A couple weeks ago, I met my neighbor. This neighbor had been living in my building for about nine months. He and his friends drove me crazy with their late-night noise, middle of the night smoke breaks, and their less than desirable conversations.
But now…he has a name. He has a job. He has a story. We have a common interest—cats. He has a soul that Jesus died for. He has a face. I cannot dislike him. I cannot be indifferent or apathetic toward him anymore. I know him. Eyes have looked into eyes. We’ve laughed together. Shared pieces of our stories.
And then there were Eric, Amanda, Margaret, Heather, Hershel. People I will probably never see again. More people with stories, lives, hopes, fears, and dreams. But I never would have even gotten a glimpse into their lives, if I hadn’t seen them. Acknowledged them. Until they had faces.
Sometimes, we can be so busy, so preoccupied, so self-absorbed that we don’t see. Really see.
Jesus, would you help us see people the way you see them? Would we hear their stories like you did and do? And like you, would we see them, know them, and love them.
…until they have faces.