Thesis: We become more fully human by seeing our reflection in the face of God in the face of the other.
Where do we see the face of God?
The first place humans encounter the face of God is when their newborn eyes behold the face of Mom (James Loder talks about this notion). As we mature, we begin to distinguish other human faces, until we finally distinguish our own face. This is the moment of self-awareness, when the identity that has been shaped by the face of God in the face of the other is revealed.
God’s face declares and actualizes human identity.
For those who are his people, the pleasure of his face declares their identity in him and actualizes it, finding completion in eternity. For those who are not his people, the wrath of his face declares and actualizes their identity apart from him.
Being the face of God for the other
Those who care for the souls of others must take care to spend sufficient time gazing at the face of God. We must take care to discover and articulate the distortions we may have, leaving those distortions in the care of a healing God. We must take care to be the face of God for the other.
A theology of facing in the Psalms
- God’s face brings good (Psalm 4:6; 22:24; 31:16; 44:3; 67:1; 80:3; 80:7; 80:19; 89:15; 119:135).
- A look from God’s face brings comfort, steadfast love, and deliverance.
- When God’s face is turned away we feel forsaken (Psalm 13:1; 27:9; 30:7; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 104:29; 143:7). More than that, when God turns his face utterly away, we are forsaken and all is lost. Our very existence is threatened because life itself is in him.
- God’s face is against those who choose evil (Psalm 34:16; 80:16; 143:7). This is more than the removal of God’s pleasure. This is the presence of God’s wrath.
- The righteous see God’s face and are satisfied (Psalm 11:7; 17:15; 24:6; 27:8; 34:5). In his face, we find wholeness (God’s shalom). In his face, our needs are met.
Original posted on Laura’s (Tangential) Writings, Thursday, June 21, 2007, as Identity Development as Facing. I am Laura: I can copy myself. You shouldn’t.
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