3/30/10

A spiritual face lift

I'll discuss our role in spiritual warfare soon, but first...

Sometimes I have trouble expressing emotion on my face.  Maybe it's an introvert thing.  Maybe I'm just a boring guy, but either way, it's not helpful in my relationships.  Just the other day Rachel came home from work after I had been painting the house from a ladder.  We were both tired.  I was very happy to see her.  It had only been a few hours since we were together, but after being twenty feet in the air for most of the afternoon, it felt good to be alive.  However, there was one problem.  I was exhausted.  And the joy that I felt from her coming home was never talked about and it certainly wasn't expressed on my face.  Everything I was feeling was a waste - only for me to know. 

My expressionless face set the mood for most of the night.  Signals were mixed.  Feelings were hurt.  And it was my face that started it all.  I didn't think about it at the time, but my facial expressions (or lack thereof) told her more than anything I could say.  I was not an effective witness for God during my interaction with her that night.  Intending to show love or thinking about love is not the same as expressing love.  It's meaningless without action.  I wonder if I send the same signals with others.  Do my expressions tell people that I love them?  That I accept them?

After Jesus' resurrection, the apostles were given great power through Christ.  They were able to heal and perform miracles.  "People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by." (Acts 5:15).  Many disciples of the apostles were being made.  One of the disciples, Stephen, was "a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8).  However, some members of the Synagogue became angry with Stephen and produced false witnesses against him to testify that he was speaking against "this holy place and against the law." (Acts 6:13).  They even said that Stephen preached of Jesus coming to destroy and change the customs Moses hand down. 

After being falsely accused and humiliated, Stephen would surely have a right to be angry.  To show anger on his face.  But he didn't.  Instead, scripture tells us that "[a]ll who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel."  What a great example of witnessing through your face. 

Rachel wasn't attacking my character or falsely accusing me.  In fact, she had done nothing wrong at all.  Yet my loveless face told her things I never meant to convey.  That is scary.  What impressions do people get of me throughout the day?  At the grocery store?  At my work?  At school?  Do I show the love of Jesus through my face?  I think that is something to think about.  We are called to spread the word of Christ, but I rarely think that that can be done by anything other than words.

"Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words."  - St. Francis of Assisi

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