Face-to-Face Connection

The spiritual discipline of face-to-face connections may not always be identified as a spiritual practice. It may seem weird, but through this discussion, I pray you will realize the importance of face-to-face connections in spiritual formation. It because of the lack of presence in our spiritual lives I believe this is important to discuss.
Victor Hugo, a French poet, once said, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
What a beautiful concept! We are beings whose souls desperately long to see the face of God, and often times in scripture, we see this longing deeply connected to lament for forgiveness and penitential scriptures. In Psalm 102, the writer cries out to God from distress, and in verse 2, we read:
Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!
The desire to see God’s face is often linked to forgiveness and wanting to see God’s reconciliation and restorative work in one’s life. This is demonstrated through lament. But the quote from Hugo reminds us that we see the face of God through loving others. It may not be God’s literal face, but God’s essence is revealed through the love for another.
I believe these concepts just mentioned echo what the author of 1 John says very well.

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We are told to love one another because love comes from God. God is revealed through that love. This is manifested through face-to-face connections with others. Since God is love, loving another person reveals God not only to ourselves, but it is revealed to all.

But today, we are surrounded by millions of distractions. It can be hard to take time to interact with people. We often opt to send instant messages rather than talk in person. I know that I have replaced face-to-face connections with the convenience and ease of technology a lot in my life, and this has really challenged me to evaluate the use of technology in my own life.

But the bottom line is that our souls long to be face to face. It is a fundamental part of our creation. God created us in relation. We desire to have real interactions with other people, but more and more, we choose to substitute physical interactions for other forms of communication. This can impact our relationships with others negatively and is realized in our ability to resolve conflict. Calhoun writes, “Our faces – arguably the most vulnerable part of us – go naked into relationships every day.” Not that technology is bad or evil, but there is truth behind these words. We can more easily put up an impenetrable wall around our lives when we hide our faces. This causes resolving things to be more difficult because we become a creation of defense. It enables hate, anger, and fear to take the reins of our lives. Without loving people, we quickly categorize into “us & them”. Dualism overtakes our thoughts and polarizes our opinions.

From there, our lives so quickly fill with a “us vs. them” mentality. We construct these divides between those we deem as different. Hate so quickly overtake our own worlds, but Love crosses those divides. Through choosing to love instead of hate, we see the love in others, and this reveals God in our world. And intentional face-to-face connections allow us to see the other fully human and loved by God.
Real face-to-face connections matter because when substituted with virtual connections we lose the ideas we express through non-verbal expressions and communications which is a huge part of our communication. Calhoun writes, “It is not just words that connect us. It is the face of another that tutors us in empathy, holding our tongue, not interrupting, listening and loving. In a world with so much digital communication, let’s celebrate the good things that happen when we are face to face.”
May we choose to see those around us in love rather than hate; in partnership rather than dissolution. And may we see the face of God revealed through our face-to-face connections.


Source: Calhoun, A. A. (2015). Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press.

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