Thursday, September 1, 2005

Reflections on the Face of Christ

“And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples and there I will enter into judgement with you face to face.” Ezekiel 20:35
I usually hesitate to mention my more personal prayer times because, though they are very meaningful to me, I do not mean to imply that everyone should regard them with the same importance that I do. This is one of those reflections, however, that I have been told left a great impact on others. I share it only as a perspective that might help us view other people with greater love and sincere attention.
Several years ago, every time I began to pray, I would see the face of Jesus in front of me. His face would then change into the face of someone else – usually people I did not recognize. This happened repeatedly so that I began to seek the Lord for the meaning to this. A week later, again in prayer, the Lord placed it clearly on my heart to look up every scripture which mentioned being ‘face to face’ with God. I got out my concordance and, beginning in Genesis, read every scripture listed under that phrase. When I came to this scripture in Ezekiel, I immediately had a profound vision that has forever changed my interaction with other people.
I saw people reaching the end of their life, and when they died, they experienced a ‘flashback’ of every encounter they had with other people during their lifetime. This flashback included everyone, whether it was a close relative, an occasional friend, or a passerby they saw only once very briefly. Any person with whom they had come ‘face to face’ was now coming before them, one after the other, in succession. But with each person they encountered, I saw that Christ was using only the eyes of that other person to recall a remembrance. I would see Him looking, through their eyes, into the face of the one who had died and He would say something like: “I remember you, you were the one who helped me when I was having such a difficult time,” or “you were the one who brought me groceries when I was out of a job,” or “you were that one who helped me across the street… (or) …said that kind word to me.” He spoke from some recognition of good that could be recalled in the heart. But if the Lord could not find some recognition like this, something that reflected His own goodness, He would search and search for one. He sought through the mind and heart for anything that could recall a reflection of His love, because it was only His love and goodness that could live eternally. After searching the depths of the heart, if He could still find nothing of good, He would slowly shake His head and say, “I never knew you.”
“Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?” Matt. 25:37-39
I don’t really know if our judgement upon leaving this world happens in this way. I don’t know if this is the way that “everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12) I do think, though, that we tend to assume our ‘judgement’ will include our personal excuses and reasoning. Perhaps God will only recognize each of us in eternity by the way we have recognized and responded to Him in the people He has created. It is something to think about.
“And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matt. 25:40.
May we abide by the words of Christ: “that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jn 15:12