The Face of God

Posted: January 26, 2020 in Meditations
boy wearing yellow crew neck shirt and black short

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Sixty years ago a young boy scratched out his school lessons in the red dirt of equatorial Africa. His home was a rural town, the tribe’s pride and identity exuded from the elephants that roamed their land. Its people worked hard, their loyalty to each other ran deep. Mom and Dad had nominal educations but harbored big dreams for their children. The young boy grew into a young man’s body. He was bright, at sixteen he carried ambition and dreams. “Father, I’ve been offered a good job in the big city. I can work and go to the community college.” Father paused, “No, son, wait. As long as you have a chance at going to the national university, wait.” In a country of over 40 million people, only 1000 students got accepted into the university each year, most with connections to privilege. The young man’s chances were slim at best yet Dad said, “Wait”. This simple family knew one important detail, the God of the Bible makes the impossible possible.

Years of hard work and a precocious mind paid off. A young man from hard scrabble town received an acceptance letter from the university. His scores, prodigious by any standard, were forwarded to the best universities in America. He got offers from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins. He chose Johns Hopkins. Today, this father of six is one of the foremost medical research scientists in the world. Many of our genetic breakthroughs originated from his research in his laboratories. Who knew? God knew.

Last year I sat at a large dinner celebration for a wedding. A young lady was wheeled in by her parents and parked at the adjoining table. I knew immediately that this precious daughter had never walked and never talked. She seemed oblivious to her surroundings, the eyes vacant. The Holy Spirit grabbed hold of my heart. I did not see a severely disabled child, I saw the face of God. I saw the sacredness of life, I felt the accountability for my own life, a life breathed into existence to glorify my creator, the Great God, Infinite Goodness. I saw in this young girl my future. I prayed this prayer, “Lord, someday, when this child and myself serve you in heaven, let me do an assignment with this girl and let her lead the way.” I saw what God sees. No matter how we are compromised in the eyes of man, we are never compromised in the eyes of God.

“Philip went to look for Nathaniel and told him, ‘We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ ‘Nazareth!’ exclaimed Nathaniel. ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ ”  John 1:45,46  Nathaniel is no different from us. We judge others all the time. You went to Yale? You must be a smarty. Grew up in the slums of Baltimore, the backwater of equatorial Africa? Nobody of note is going to know your name. You have a child with profound challenges? Glad I’m not you. You get the point. We make snap judgments about the worth of individuals everyday. Jesus got “Nazareth” and “the carpenter’s son” label hung on him day in and day out. Jesus shared a parable in which the righteous were given their reward. The righteous were a bit confused and asked, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?” The King answered, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:37-40

Every individual is sacred unto God. I recently talked to a seventeen year old Hispanic girl who has been verbally abused. I said, “Love in our hearts is so crucial. Never surrender your heart to hate. Sometimes it is so difficult to see the face of God in others because of the warp of evil. ” Apart from God’s work in our heart, we will fail to see beyond the warp of evil, whether it be our heart or their heart. John wrote, “Dear friends, since God loved us, we  also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:11  Jesus showed us the way, he affirmed the face of God in all of us. He loved us, he died for us. Now love others. Don’t measure worth, don’t give in to prejudice and hurt. Love, affirm, invest, all to the glory of God. Be bold, in the end, Christ is all that matters.

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