Although lacking a Facebook account, I know there are positive things about social media. So, I was surprised when acquaintances gave up regularly posting to Facebook because it negatively affected their face-to-face interactions.
In the Old Testament, faces or countenances generally identify people, reflect their attitudes and sentiments, and engage in behavior that reveals emotions, moods, and dispositions. To “hide one’s face” is to show aversion or disgust (Isaiah 53:3), and “to turn away the face” is to reject (Psalm 132:10). But, “to raise the face” of another is to show favor, respect, and acceptance (1 Samuel 25:35, and note that the Hebrew word for “face” is not literally translated into English in this and some other cases), or to show partiality and favoritism (Leviticus 19:15).
Similarly, God’s face may “fall” in anger (Jeremiah 3:12) or be hidden (Psalm 13:1) or “shine” as a sign of favor and good will (Psalm 4:6). People may appear before God’s face by visiting the sanctuary, and so be in His presence and grace in worship (for example, Exodus 23:15), but, because of their sin, people generally cannot see God face to face without perishing (Exodus 19:21). The New Testament tells us that only the Son has seen the Father (John 1:18; 6:46; 1 John 4:12). The Son is the Word through Whom we hear God (John 1:1-18) and the image through Whom we see God (Colossians 1:15; John 14:8-11; 2 Corinthians 4:6; confer Matthew 17:2, 5 and Luke 9:29, 35).
Thanks be to God that His Son Jesus died on the cross so that we who are baptized may come into His presence and see Him as He reveals Himself in His Word and the Sacrament of the Altar (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-4). Media can help spread the Gospel, but they should not keep us from the Incarnate God’s presence in His incarnational ministry. For, it is in the Divine Service that the Lord blesses us and keeps us, makes His face shine upon us and is gracious to us, lifts up His countenance upon us and gives us peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.