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*Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration*

Each One Is Sacred

It’s so easy to become inappropriately pre-occupied with our own lives that we miss the ”faces” that pass by us on a daily basis. In our attempts to “keep up” with the hurried pace of life, we in fact can become blinded to the relevance of others. Others, who can in time, become perceived by us as one large “faceless” group, with our “sadly” introverted, increasingly blurred, visual as to their existence. Why sadly? Because, in those faces is the creative artistry of Jesus on display to be celebrated! Something, I would strongly suggest, is not an affordable luxury to miss! Life can get very small as can we, when we choose to live it from a “self” perspective!

Here’s the problem incurred with “self-lived’ life: We serve a massively huge God who desires to live out His heaven’s viewpoints in and through us! How can that ever happen if we opt for the comforting familiar surroundings of smallness as our lens to see life through?

We’ve all experienced at one time or another life being lived as if watching a movie at ten times its prescribed speed and then wondering at the end of the viewing, how it was possible that we missed the entire plot. What’s the plot?

First of all it’s our Lord’s plot, seeing as it is He who authored the screen-play for our beneficial viewing. In His magnificent heart it’s the “others” that truly matter to Jesus as His story unfolds. But not as a group, but rather as unique individuals who each have a face worthy of our focused attention, acknowledgement, and recognition. With our needed co-operation, God can and will broaden our horizons to see His amazing creation in all its vastness, one face at a time! It’s then and only then, that life, in its meant to be glorious status of relevance, finds itself getting much bigger than houses or lands or bank accounts within its unlimited capacity to LOVE and SEE as it is seen though our Lord’s eyes! And wonderfully loving and gracious eyes they are!

Followers Do More Than Tag Along

Jesus while on earth, saw pretty well everything differently that the societal normal. More like diametrically opposite would be a better descriptive. His followers were in a perpetual state of confusion when He taught. You see Jesus made statements that had never been spoken before. It’s why He needed to constantly use metaphorically laced stories to translate His viewpoint of importance. For instance: “To love and pray for your enemies” was a foreign concept and quite distasteful to those listening. Rome was their enemy and they had good reason to hate them!

“Freely you’ve received now freely give”, is still a teaching we struggle with. How about: “Love one another as I have loved you and by THIS they will know you are Mine? Yup, still working at that one Lord! Oh how diabolical “self” can be when intertwined with what Jesus prescribed as our directives.

Those early followers had to eventually get over themselves to get into the heart of Christ in its purest reality! It was then they became “disciples”. Emulators of Jesus not themselves. Yup, still working on that too Lord, he said confessionally! Thank you for your grace!

I’m so glad that Jesus backed up his teachings with actions as to present a visual to His words. I need visuals. They provide me with inescapable clarity. Visuals that challenge to the core, when viewed with my heart. A heart that greatly desires to be like Him and gets frustrated with itself when it misses the mark due to distractiveness! Folks, there is a very good reason I find Jesus as altogether lovely as I do. He’s nothing like me! Therefore, the essence of pursuit for me, is to be as much like Him as possible! I don’t call that “spiritually enlightened” but rather, simply making sense!

Jesus Saw Faces

The crucifixion provided quite the plethora of visuals complete with their own confirming sound tracks as to Jesus, not merely saying what’s right, but doing Himself that which He said.

One would have to literally hang on a cross themselves to fully appreciate the immensity of the torcher inflicted on our Lord. Movie makers have tried their best to reflect its grotesqueness in their many attempts but have understandably come up short.

As Jesus hung on that cross He saw “faces” that transcended His pain, while not dismissing it as trivial.

In our Lord’s moment of greatest need we hear these stunning words: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Who are the “them” and “they” spoken of by Jesus? Shockingly, those who mocked Him in his blood soaked broken state. Those who drove the spikes into His hands and feet. Those who showed up to enjoy the event as a form of sadistic entertainment. Perhaps those who have previously whipped Him were present and qualified as forgivable. It was amazingly “they” He thought of, not Himself!

Earlier He saw the faces of His Mother and disciple John at the foot of the cross weeping. He said to them: “ Mother behold you son”, referring to John. “And John behold your Mother”.

Hours had passed when one of the two men being crucified with Jesus had a request to submit with his remaining last few breaths: “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom”. Our Lord’s response: “Today you will be with Me in paradise”.

I have a question for Jesus. You were hanging next to a correctly convicted man who was being punished for his crimes. Did you not at that point have something or someone more important on your mind than this guy, like for instance your undeserved circumstances?

Allow me to share what I know my Lord’s answer would be to my question: Bill, I saw his “face” and responded, so to your query the answer is NO, I DIDN’T!

And folks, He asks me to be reflective of Him in the way I live my life! If I choose “not to”, it seems obvious to me and a fair assumption that I’m just tagging along having a religious, as opposed to “reality”, experience. That can’t happen!

Here’s the most profoundly unpopular life clarifying statement of “reality in Christ” I can offer. It’s found in the answer to this question if we dare to ask. When do I get to observe my face in the grand scheme of things? When does it become about me?

If it’s true that a servant is not greater than his Master, the answer is NEVER! It never became about Jesus in His mind throughout His entire sojourn on earth! “I haven’t come to be served but rather to serve” was His statement of clarity in describing His life’s purpose. His comment was never altered one iota. So I’m seriously thinking, how can ours be “legitimately” different, legitimately being the key word?

I’ve foolishly at times perused the crucifixion account with a constant refrain of: If I were Jesus I wouldn’t have allowed this or that to happen. If given the options He had at his disposal, I most certainly would have used them to their full extent to escape my torment. Those temple guards that came to arrest me in the Garden of Gethsemane would have had a rude awakening when they arrived. Yup, that’s what would have happened if I were Jesus!

But then I remember His prayer in that same garden: “Father Thy will not Mine be done” and I’m reminded by the One who prayed that prayer that if I were more like Jesus, that would be my prayer. I’d live my life far more reflective of that desire. You see that’s the problem isn’t it? I’m not near enough like Him. I still see “my face” too often.

He Saw My Face Thus I Don’t Have To

The cross of Jesus is bitter-sweet no doubt with unfathomable dimensions within its context and content to spiritually ingest. How He could and why He would, love us that excruciatingly seems to be a question, that has no answer. It’s not a love that can be rationalized. I’ve been loved by a lot of people, but the bible pedestals my Lord’s sacrifice that day appropriately by describing it as : “No greater love”!

Two thousand years ago “my face” was seen by Jesus. From His cross, He peered down through the corridors of time and “saw me”. Please feel free to personalize and wear that amazing truth as your own. He saw every face individually, intimately, and lovingly to such an extreme extent that it can only be described as immeasurable. The sheer intensity of His love is what kept Him on that cross. He loved us more than He distained His abusive treatment. He saw our “faces” as worth it! He now asks us to see other “faces” likewise, which is simply reflective of His visual.

So I’m left with this conclusion to ponder in the solitude of my soul. Once I realize that my face has been seen by Jesus, is there any further need to see it myself as I go forward with Him?

I think not! Which leaves me with only this one singular need remaining. To see yours as Jesus sees yours! Your face is the one of most importance. The Writer of the bible says so!

1 Corinthians 10 - 27 & 24: “I have the right to do anything”, you say - but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”- but everything is not constructive. No one should seek their own good but the good of others.

It seems when “others” are the point, things just have a way of working out for the good of all!

It’s interesting that when Jesus sent his disciples out two by two on their first solo run, He was crystal clear in His instructions: Don’t concern yourself with yourself! If I may paraphrase: Focus on faces that aren’t yours. As I see it, words to live by for me! As John the Baptist said: “I must become less so that He can become more”. Therefore, Jesus becoming more is the whole point in following Him with no other point of importance to challenge it. “I MUST”, doesn’t ring in my ears like an optional choice for my “whenever I get around to it” consideration. To be honest, it sounds rather urgent! There was no one busier than Jesus and yet He, the Holy Son of God, had the time to observe faces as He went about His ministry because He wanted to. We MUST have the same “want to”. Our Lord’s attractiveness was in His ability to see the faces of those whom He touched. They weren’t just anybody’s to Him they were somebody’s of extreme importance. An importance that would be emphatically displayed for all to see on a cross! That’s why we are instructed to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. It’s the only way we will ever be able to see others as He does.

Folks, it takes a cross to get over ourselves! Jesus mentioned that pre-requisite as followers of Him for a very good reason. He knows our leanage towards self. We’re not here to accumulate but rather dispensate. To give ourselves away is our high calling as was our Lord’s as He led the way by giving Himself away for the world! What could be more wonderful than to emulate the object of our affection and do likewise!

Jesus set the standard to follow. He established the eternal template for what being His disciple looks, sounds, and tastes like. Regardless of man’s many attempts to massage it into something more appetizing to his palate, it’s never actually changed. Why would it, Jesus hasn’t?

1 John 2 - 6: “Whoever claims to be in Him MUST live as Jesus did”. There’s that “inescapable” WORD again!

Behind each FACE there’s a story lurking in the shadows in need of ministry. We MUST desire to see the FACE in order to be entrusted with the story!

The Samaritan woman at the well. The woman caught in adultery. The bankrupt lady who had spent all her money trying to resolve her non-stop bleeding issue. All those lepers Jesus healed with their attached isolation and painful death sentences hovering over their heads. The blind. The crippled. The despised tax collectors. The dead He brought back to life. The many who were demon possessed that Jesus delivered from their tormented state.

They all had faces that Jesus noticed. It was never an assembly line of “who’s next, keep the line moving please, I’m in a hurry”. No, He took the time and saw them all as He sees us. Worthy of individual viewing!

And then there were those early fisherman with faces that Jesus called to be His first followers. In their three years together, they observed Jesus never being too busy to miss faces. After His exit, they walked the walk that had already been indelibly inscribed on their hearts and minds. A walk of paying attention to the things that truly matter to the heart of God. FACES! The walk hasn’t changed. It’s not our walk but rather the walk of Christ being duplicated through us!

Do you know why the Pharisees couldn’t accomplish that which Jesus did? They didn’t want to. They were far too pre-occupied with their own faces to minister to the others. I’m thinking this scripture from James 1 - 22 was written on behalf of Pharisaic mindsets: “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”.

In closing, a real life short story that so touched my heart. A few weeks back and while at work, Shila met a face. A ladies face with an issue. The credit card she was trying to use to get a little cash wouldn’t work. The lady was stranded without bus fare to get home. Shila, having noticed the situation, and likely against company policy, dug into her purse and gave the lady a gift of the needed amount. It wouldn’t be long before the ladies husband would call thanking Shila for her caring generosity to a stranger. He was quite amazed that someone would do that without hesitation!

Big deal? To God, the only true evaluator of value, yes! Jesus himself made a big deal out of a widows last few pennies! So much so that He made mention of it, declaring that what she had given superseded the mocking Pharisees self-thought greater contribution. The widow: Another societal nobody whose face was noticed by our Lord thus making her a somebody!

Folks, Jesus is amazing! We should voluntarily let Him be so in and through us! By this they will know we are His! Not by what we know but rather what we do, will always be the factor worthy of notice from heaven’s perspective.

My Ministry Into Our Ministry

Mark 6 - 38 & 41: “How many loaves do you have He asked?” “Go and see”. When they found out they said, “Five and two fish”. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to His disciples to DISTRIBUTE to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all”. ( Five thousand plus, were fed that day! )

In the biblical story of the “fishes and loaves”, I so clearly see three dynamics in play to achieve the desired completion of the heavenly orchestrated equation. The young boy GAVE what little he had, our Lord then MULTIPLIED it, and the disciples then DISTRIBUTED it.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus, after the multiplying didn’t say, “Come and get it”. What He did say was, “Everyone find a place to sit on the grass and I’ll bring it to you, through my own”. Folks, He loves to involve us. He loves to make us matter! We are blessed beyond measure to be written into, His stories! Just imagine: Invited by Him to participate in His plans for others!

From the inception of the idea of writing books to be made available to “all freely”, there has never been a moment when I haven’t been aware of its ministry context. I could easily be seen as the “young boy” in the story. Jesus has most certainly multiplied my meager offering to Him.

So may I invite and encourage you to be a distributor of that which He has multiplied, thereby elevating “My Ministry” into “Our Ministry”, thus completing “His Ministry”. There’s something about that idea that sounds “perfect” to my heart!

We all have friends, family, work mates, school mates, etc. I’ve included a simple directional on “how to find” the “fishes and loaves”. Please feel free to share “what you eat” with others. You have no idea where it could lead to! That young boy’s mother could never have dreamed, what that little lunch she had prepared for her son on that fateful morning, would produce!

Thanks in advance. Bill Taylor

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