Our encounter with Jesus is made visible on our faces
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Isn’t it nice to see people’s faces again?
For the past two years during the Covid pandemic, we have seen each other behind masks. When we haven’t been behind a mask we have been behind a computer screen, interacting with one another through video calls. One way or another there have been barriers in place between us.
Wearing a mask is completely understandable given the situation we have found ourselves in. Indeed, wearing a mask is still a helpful way to keep ourselves and others safe during a pandemic that is still very present. Yet as restrictions have eased and the pressure of the pandemic has lessened, masks have been removed and we have seen one another face to face once more.
Putting aside the pros and cons of continued mask wearing for the moment, it is lovely to see another person without a mask between us. There is a great deal that can be communicated by a person’s eyes (and perhaps we have gained a greater appreciation of that over recent years). But there is so much more that is communicated by someone’s face. You see clearly when someone is happy and full of joy, when they are sad and downcast, when a person is worried, anxious, confusion or concerned.
To truly encounter someone, you need their face to be unveiled. The emotional life of another person is seen in their face; where there is a barrier, your interaction is restricted. You don’t really know what they are thinking or feeling; your communication is at a distance. Full knowledge needs the veil to be removed.
One of the joys of the Christian life is that we have unveiled faces. In the Old Testament, when Moses met with God his face became glorious. Too glorious, it turns out, for the people to look upon. Moses had to put on a veil to hide the glory of God’s presence. Moses wore a mask to protect others, not from a virus but from a vision of glory.
As Christians, we get to gaze on the face of God in Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit we encounter God ‘face to face’ without barriers, masks or veils. As we meet with God, we are changed. As we contemplate God’s glory we are transformed with glory. As we look on the Lord, our identity is changed, our life is turned upside down and our soul is made new.
This transformation that the Holy Spirit brings is made visible in our appearance. In brief, you can see it in our faces. That doesn’t mean that Christians are always happy and smiling. Christians know sorrow, pain and struggle just as much anyone in this world. Yet even in sorrow and hardship, the light of the Lord can shine through in a Christian’s demeanour.
I wonder if my encounter with the living God is visible on my face today? Not in a false facade: that is as much a mask or a veil as a physical piece of fabric. But in peace, hope, longing, life, strength and security found in Jesus Christ. My prayer is that I would not only know those things, but that they would be seen in my appearance. That I would allow the light of Christ to shine through me today, not veiling my face with pretence but letting God’s glory stream even in the hardest of times.
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash