"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, May 13, 2005

Faces All Around, But Do We See?

I realize that my age may tell here, but there was a popular Christian song way back entitled "Lonely Faces". As I recall, it was not the most uplifting song, as many of the 1970 era songs were, but it talked about all the lonely faces on lonely people that we as Christians pass each day. How many of these faces did we see and how many did we purposely avoid?

Working in the downtown area of Atlanta in a large multi-cultural University, it is a great place to watch people. Keeping the above song in mind, I want to share some of my normal day as I watch these folks.

One of the major gathering places on campus is a large central plaza with fountains, benches and trees where students all meet up between classes and during their breaks. As I look at their faces, I can see faces with excitement and hope for their future. Faces that reflect their enthusiasm toward graduation and getting that perfect job making the mega-bucks and being successful. Faces that reflect students that are worried about their future. They might not be doing so well in class even though they are trying and are worried about losing a scholarship or grant, worried about their parent's reaction, worried about even being able to graduate and get a job.

You can see faces of the Greek organizations....(don't be ugly, I was in one at college). Faces that can seem to be exclusive to outsiders, usually very confident in their abilities. Faces that are often quite attractive with perfect hair and teeth and (seemingly) all the social skills needed in life. However, these faces are also looking for ways to better serve their school and community and making a mark that will make a difference in someone's life.

The faces of our international students are plentiful. Faces that are becoming used to a new country, language and culture. Faces that light up when they hear their own native language being spoken. Faces that are grateful when someone helps them locate a building or classroom. Faces that reflect the true society of God's Kingdom...all races, all colors, all people.

There are those faces of the druggies. Unfocused eyes, blank expressions, worried features about where their next hit is going to come from. Not worrying about classes as much as scoring some major deal to last them for a few more days. These are the sad faces to me because these kids are so young and have so much to offer the future and are not realizing it.

Being an urban school, I will often leave the campus and go into the streets to get some lunch or just take a nice stroll on a wonderful Atlanta spring day. Up in the financial and legal districts, you can see the rushed, fervent faces of the movers and shakers of our city and (even) the world. They are scurrying off to make their next big deal, to chair their next task force meeting, to close a big case in court....cellphones plastered to their ears, briefcases under their arms while they tap on their PDA, seeing you, but not seeing you as you pass.

Also, are the urban dwellers. Those unfortunate souls who have no place to call home. I see them in the park playing chess, listening to live music during lunch and talking to each other. Yet, so often, I see them digging through the trashcans, begging for money, sleeping in doorways and shuffling down the side streets carrying all their belongings in a bag. Eyes that are red, faces that are blotchy, hair that needs washing, wearing too many layers of clothes for an 80 degree day, a look of desperation on their face because they don't know where their next meal is to come from or if they might just die alone and unwanted.

What do people see when they look at our face? Do they see our roles which we play in life? Parent, student, child, friend, neighbor, and so forth? Or, do they see the reflection of God? Last Sunday in Bible Study I passed a mirror around the class and asked them to look in it and tell me what they saw. Some were honest, some were guarded, some refused to look or answer. What should we see? Quick and short....we should see God's image in us. His joy, His peace, His love, His power, His hope. That's what we should convey in our faces. Remember from 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "when we are in Christ, we are new creatures....brand spanking new creatures. The old reflection is gone and the new reflection is Him". I may have paraphrased a wee bit, but I think the intent is the same. The Psalmist tell us that "as we are in our heart, so we are." What we are in our heart is God created, so we are to show God in our lives, our actions.....and our faces.

Watch faces today. See what the faces all around you are telling. And then look into your own face and make sure you see God so that those around you can see Him also....even without words.

And for today, my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's,


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