We’ve been talking about the faces of the beloved this week. Recognizing them can be disbelief in the mirror, pain in the old pages of a photo album, a pause at the breakfast table or at bedtime, or exchanged smiles with a new friend. These realizations can be laden with acceptance, resignation, memory or delight.
But when I lift my eyes beyond my own life, recognizing the faces of God’s beloved can be filled with discomfort.
We belong to a mission church that ministers to and alongside the homeless. At Triune, God’s beloved have broken teeth, and sometimes alcohol breath. God’s beloved have eyes drained of hope and bodies aged beyond their number of years. And singing and praying with them, I can’t ride home anymore as though this has nothing to do with me.
But for years I did– I traveled past these souls, these beloved, waiting in line for one of the several hot meals our partner churches provide. I turned my head as though God values a clean-clothed homeowner in a late-model car more than these. Even though Jesus made it pretty clean with whom He identifies.
Or there is the inner disquiet after hearing about another international tragedy on the radio, admitting I react and live as though I value, as though God values, American lives above others.
But the truth is, the world is crammed and crowded with the faces of God’s beloved children, the world for whom He gave His Son, all a rainbow of skin tones and I’m looking more and more like a rich young ruler and a needle’s eye is so very narrow. Seeing God’s global beloved will break your heart.
I’m not sure what we should do with that recognition. Guilt is cheap and a dead end. I’m a beloved work in progress, and I’m learning to ask how I can grow through a wider vision of the beloved. For our family, we’ve chosen to sing and pray and learn and grow alongside some of the faces we used to pretend we did not see. Maybe there is a local ministry who could use your money, your garden produce, your old clothes, or that finest gift of the beloved to the beloved: your genuine presence. Maybe you have a few dollars in your budget to sponsor a child through Compassion or another relief agency. Maybe living out a global belovedness is a simple and as profound as a clean drink of water.
I am humbled indeed, for this is something I’m only beginning to grow into.
It’s a big beloved world.