A FLY ON JESUS FACE
It was one of those flashes, your concentration has a lapse, and you are intent on one thing and miss the big picture. I was sitting on my son-in-law and daughter’s couch, eating a salad. In back of me, on the wall, was a contemporary rendering of Jesus’ face; an interesting artistic conception done by Damon Conklin, a local tattoo artist who runs Super-Genius Tattoo. He’s alleged to be the most influential tattoo artist in Seattle with a shop on Pike Street near the Pike Street Market.
Someone remarked, “There’s a fly on Jesus’ face”. Another person chimed in on the same quip. I didn’t turn to look; I was too into my salad.
Later I thought, “Wow, how can a fly be on Jesus face?” There’s nothing more disturbing. But the real question is, how prominent is His face to us, and are we focusing on the face or on the fly?
Ecclesiastes 10:1 states:
As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils those with a reputation of wisdom and honor.
Dead flies, ick, this is a strange correlation. We may build up a reputation, others assume that we have some insight or wisdom on things, but one little miscue can ruin it all. Just by a single slipup or lapse – and in that little burst of foolish expression the image of wisdom is tainted. Now others only see a fly. People will remember one tactless moment and forget years of admirable achievements. All it takes is a tasteless, tacky gauche and we’re on our way to bankrupting our reputation.
“But Jesus doesn’t have flaws,” you say. Yes, even though we characterize blame for every assumed defect in our planet on Him, is it a rational presumption?
In the face of Jesus are we focusing on His face or on a fly?
We may have a desire to see the Lord’s face but we are faced with what appears on the surface to be a plague of so many flies. They fly in in the form of pesky things, devastating issues and anguishing disappointments.
Many expressions and phrases also apply to “the face of God.” His face “shines” (Ps. 4:6), demonstrating good will and blessing. He sets His face against sinners (Lev. 17:10), and hides His face (Ps. 13:1). His face is against or hid is an awkward phenomena, which is actually a backward analogy. The reality is, we do the hiding. The truth is, we persist in setting our face or life against His face so the reverse is insinuated.
Frequently, the word “face” is used not only as the presence of God but also His person as well. In His person, or persona, all of the bounty of His characteristics are expressed; the privileges of His grace, favor, mercy, forgiveness and an awareness of His love and forgiveness. But, if we’re delusional over the fly we slide into misconceptions of His face, misapprehensions of His presence, misconstructions of His purposes and misunderstandings of His love and quality of character.
When God sets His face against sinners the ultimate meaning here is really not God’s alleged turning. We are the ones that turn our back on the face of Jesus. We reject Christ, and refuse His offer of salvation. Our purpose is a rebuff and a refusal of the face of Jesus. They are a snub to His gifts.
When you scrape back all the excuses people raise for rejecting Jesus it always ends the same. They are focusing on the fly instead of the face. It is seeing Him as an absent God in place of seeing Him as the God who is here and present and extremely involved.
Does God seem to hide His face from us? Yes, He does, in the aspect that we hide our face from Him. When we’re blaming God for hiding His face we may feel exhausted and depressed from problems, troubles, and extreme pressures. Or it could be a chain of seemingly endless disappointments. It could be a horde of flies.
There are things that go on, it seems, for year after year. We stuff it away in a barrel of internal bitterness. We feel the aggravation of discouragement over and over and invariably we blame it on God. All the while swatting at the flies or feeling God has left us.
We may feel driven to try a variety of desperate things to get relief. Many of us just give up; we don’t have the energy to face the ruthless insistence of the condition we are in. All we see is the fly.
It could be a physical condition, a financial problem that’s severe; a continual hopeless, unresolvable complication, or struggles and difficulties in a loved one’s life that just keeps cycling down to increasing wreckage and loss for them.
It may be a defiant loved one, a friend lost to alcoholism, drugs or some other draining vice. It may be a situation at work, a demanding, unreasonable boss; a jealous, spiteful fellow worker, or worse, no work. All we can see are flies and no face at all.
Is the face of God gone? Has He withdrawn or is God just introverted? Or worse then all that has God just disappeared?
No, we may think we are the experts. We may have a view that our determination and perspective are defined from these assumed flies when God’s existence and presence is confusing in our lives. On a bigger scale, the legion of flies in the world may incline us to speculate on God’s attendance or presumed absence.
The real problem is we’re free to focus on what we want and we’re free to ignore whatever details may exist.
Paul Moser writes about the illusive God arguing: that God doesn’t just want us to see Him and know Him; He wants us to see and know Him in a particular way. There is propositional knowledge. Propositional means we have the content and meaning and we either accept it or reject it.
We know God exists, we accept the Jesus is God and that He has come and died for our sins and has risen and is alive. We mentally accept that proposition or proposal. But is consenting to this proposition enough?
Then there is filial knowledge. Filial is family knowledge. This is to know Jesus is God personally. This is seeing God’s face by faith. This is having a personal relationship with Him.
We are free to reject Him or we are free to stay on the fringe with a propositional knowledge. But, a personal relationship means we have to bow to Jesus as Lord.
I see many claiming to be Christians but they presume on God’s grace. The question is always why are they presumptive in speculating opinions and details that incline them on a periphery where they hedge and border.
We can’t presume God’s grace only, we’ve been asked to step deeper. True faith is to depend on His grace. Either we let God’s will be supreme or we demand that it’s our will that has to be supreme. There is the rub. If our will is highest and ultimate then God will let us live with our choice. He hasn’t withdrawn, we have. We’re seeing flies in place of His face and the consequence is all we can see are the flies and more flies.
The choice to presume is a decision to be blind. The choice to depend is a determination to see His face, His presence and His grace.