I came across this phrase while reading Brian Zahnd's book "A Farewell to Mars." God has a face. Later the next day that phrase came rushing back into my mind as a string of thoughts on just what that might mean from several perspectives.
Anyone who has been within a Christian religious subculture for any significant time may be familiar with the verse from Hebrews, 1:3 where it states: "...[Jesus] is the reflection of God's glory and the exact likeness of his being..." I think we may really miss the absolute depth of this statement about God. Too often we get caught up in "religious-ese" and somehow mystify this simple statement that, in plain terms, puts a face on God. And that face is Jesus.
God has a face. I was thinking about a new crew member scheduled to come on the boat. All I had was a name from the crew dispatch email sent earlier in the day. The name seemed familiar. When mentioning it to other crew members they were like: "Yea, you remember, he used to ride with us a few years ago. Well that still didn't help my comprehension and I said, "Yea, the name seems familiar but I can't put a face to it."
I propose that it is in this sense that the entirety of the scriptures need to be viewed. The email - old testament writings - are part of a message that something or someone is coming, but as we know the message is not a complete communication, and in this case not a clear one either. Then we have the testimony of other crew who "remember" him i.e. the new testament. But there is something strikingly more about the face. It is here that we recognize and can then begin to join those things that are connected or belong to this person's story and reject or critique those that are part of some other story even if unsure what that other story is we know that it does not belong to or is a reflection upon the one with the face. It is in the growing cognition of that face that guides us in this process.
Well of course we don't know what the physical face of Jesus looked like so instead we must connect the one with the face with his own words and actions that define him. Those things that by his words and actions most clearly show what he thought important and valuable. There is plenty enough there to critique the content of the original message and also begin to see a mosaic portrait appear that gets us much closer to seeing the God which many of the original messengers all too frequently missed.
We shouldn't blame those early writers for missing the face. There was a great deal of competition. Even if inspired they were still trapped within a world that was primitive, deeply violent and superstitious. A world of ubiquitous fear and death. A world culture filled with sacrificial gods, malevolent to a one, running amok over humanity; if even only in their minds.
There was simply was no one able to represent the face. Humanity wasn't yet capable of grasping... of beholding, such a face in such a world. In spite of all these handicaps we still can find those elements that belong to the story that goes with the face but we must start with the face not the ancient story. It is not anachronistic to read the story this way because the point of the story leads to the climax wherein is revealed the face. It is the Face which brings some elements together and reveals others as merely false and fallen human imaginings.