Monday, April 7, 2008

The Face

One of the songs from the new project that’s getting the most attention and draws the most frequent comments is called “When You See Jesus.” You can read a description of who it’s about and why and when it was written on the website.

But right now, it gets me to thinking in a whole different light.

Years ago, I wrote another song called “Would I Know You Now” and it was inspired by a wandering imagination (like a lot of songs) that was sort of a daydream. I imagined Jesus walking into an everyday situation – approaching a table full of friends in a restaurant or a group on the first tee at the local golf course - a couple of fishermen in the early hours of a summer day (of course, in this picture, He would be walking on the water, you know). Maybe He’s walking up to a group of parents at a kids’ soccer game or happening upon a bunch of teenage boys sitting on the hoods of their cars in the parking lot talking smack about how fast they can go, how much beer they drank last night, which girls they’re after.

Jesus came to the world as a gift from the Father – A gift to be shared. But, too many times, like a spoiled kid, I hear myself say, “Mine!”. The healing of His shadow isn’t cast over the wounds of the world as readily as it ought to be.

More likely, the message I/we send to a lost world is, “Look, get yourself together, and stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, then we’ll talk and maybe you can bend yourself into some shape that will fit what we’re doing. Yeah, I know Jesus said He would do the work in you and that He would change you, but it would really be better, and most of us would be a lot more comfortable if you’d do something about it yourself. And try some mouthwash while you’re at it.”

Who has the face of Christ? Your neighbor? Your pastor? Would people confuse him with the Savior. Odds are against that, you say? Why? What is so different? “Well, my pastor is so recognizable, people know him.” And we have our opinions of our favorite preachers and we’ve come to our own conclusions about his Christ-like traits or the lack thereof. No, people would never mistake _______________ for Jesus. And really, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just so obvious that most of us are far from being mistaken for the Nazarene.


But what about me? Same pity. There are things about me that would stop people from ever mistaking me for the Christ.

I want to believe that if I were to encounter the Lord face to face, in person, real flesh and blood, I would know it. But He might be nothing like I expect Him to be. Like most people, I have that picture hanging on the Sunday School class wall burned into my head. You know the one – Jesus, dressed in a robe with an extra sash or two, sandals (cool), with that serene countenance. Skin color – hmm, not brown but not white and not black but not yellow either.

By the way, the picture at the top is not from the Sunday School wall. It was a gift from a friend from Romania.

We haven’t come as far as we’d like to believe about the color thing. For better or worse, we can’t claim ownership (though yes to some responsibility) of any particular racial or tribal prejudice here in the USA . Sometimes I wonder how the planet holds to its orbit with all the violence perpetrated by one superior group against another, faith against faith, one tribe trying to rid the earth of its rival.

If Jesus were to walk into the hills of Afghanistan and occupy a spot around a Taliban campfire or sit at a war table with an American Colonel, would I know Him? If he were to press His face against the fence surrounding a refugee camp in the Sudan, would I know Him? If he were to check into the hotel room right next to me, could I feel it?

And skeptics laugh. “When will you people ever get over this.”

I’ll never get over it and I’ll never stop looking. The more time passes, the more promises are unfulfilled by a world that tries to placate me with more storage space on my ipod, bigger TV screens, faster internet service or better gas mileage or more energy through pharmaceuticals, the deeper I breathe and believe that He is here now and He is coming then and there is more than this.

And I’m thankful.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for your patience with me. Sometimes my faith seems so small it makes a mustard seed look like an asteroid. Open my eyes a little wider today so that I can see you in everything and everyone. And so I can keep from freaking out at every obstacle that shakes me and makes me ask stupid questions that you answered a long, long time ago.




The Art of Knowing Me said...

Wow. The image of Jesus with His face pressed to a fence around a refugee camp made me cry. I needed that.

Anonymous said...

That song had a tremendous influence on me and how I raised my sons. I constantly and still do remind them that God is everywhere where you think He's not. I am always reminded that I need to be Jesus to someone each and every day.