Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Found Out

Another hallmark of our spiritual autism is that we are living in a world at large that can no longer look faith in the eye. 

They say that this is faith's fault, that faith itself has become so disgusting, so detestable, so hypocritical that it is impossible to look at it. When they do, they say, they discover faith to be a mere shadow of its glorious self, something far less than they imagine that it ought to be. It is repulsive in its shortcomings. So, they say, we cannot look.

Eye contact is an intimate experience. It is, among other things, a testimony of respect. When you look someone in the eye, what you are essentially saying is, "You have my undivided attention." You are worthy of my time and energy. I am making an investment in you. And I am choosing, in this moment, to see only you. 

But what you are also saying is, "And I am giving you permission to see me."

This is our real trouble. It is not that we find the faith so repulsive that we cannot look at it; it is that we find ourselves repulsive in its eyes, and we cannot allow it to look at us. Let's be honest - most of us struggle to even look at ourselves. We cannot bear the mirror.

It is because our culture has given us something of a self-worship. Rather than demanding more of what we say or do, our culture has declared that the only measure of who we are is what we will be. And in order to live up to this high expectation, most of us have simply convinced ourselves that we're almost there.

We're good people. We don't do malicious things to others. We mess up sometimes, sure, but who doesn't? We have a textbook understanding of who Jesus is and that, we think, makes us Christians, or something like them. At least enough like them that we need not fear the wrath of God or the condemnation of Hell. We are, after all, good people. 

But look faith in the eye and it looks right back at you and somewhere in its vision, you see the true reflection of yourself, which is, in faith, a fallen man. You see all that God had hoped you would be and all that you really quite aren't. You see the high demand God has placed on your life and the so much less that you've settled for. You see the amazing love that God has for you, a love that carries you all the way to the Cross with Him, and you see where you've stumbled, refusing even to try to stand back up again. 

Looking faith in the eye exposes us to see ourselves in her reflection, and the trouble is that most of us cannot bear to see who we really are. It is not that faith is harsh or critical; we do that ourselves. We see but dimly in her glass, and what we miss is that little twinkle of grace that betrays our own anxieties. For we are too busy condemning ourselves to see how much she loves us. 

And so, we turn away and we can no longer look faith in the eye. 

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