Are you aware of what your face is doing? What you “really believe” is really evident in what happens on your face. We’ve all known folks who have no capacity to mask what is going on inside them… their continence is a window into their heart for good or ill. we enjoy such people when they are happy and tend to be disconcerted by such people when they are less than happy. But this is not just an issue for those who have no capacity to mask what they’re feeling; no one can actively deceive those around them all the time and what you really think will inevitably make its way onto your face. What does your face say about what’s inside of you? How rare is a smile? Smile now and ask yourself if that feels strange or natural… give it a go!
Think beyond your own face. Does it feel like a smile is becoming a rare commodity in our world? Perhaps that’s due to people wearing masks or maybe it is emerging from some of the fear and depression that is typical in our present culture? Maybe it’s a byproduct of rampant distrust and conflict that seem to pervade so much of human interaction since we began replacing people with devices? If there’s one place a smile should never be long hidden, it’s in the church. I understand that there may be moments and seasons where grief reigns, or pain overwhelms for a time, but among Christ-followers, smiles should pop up like dandelions on a spring lawn. Please understand I’m not advocating for false or forced levity (there are few things so disconcerting as that forced-plastic-rictus-smile); I just think a Christian living out his/her beliefs cannot but experience joy regularly and that joy cannot help but make its way onto a face with regularity. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently noted: “Joy is the serious business of heaven”[i]. Anyone heading to heaven had better be in the business of rehearsing joy… and our faces tell the tale.
[i] Lewis, C.S. Letters to Malcolm. Chiefly on Prayer, chap. 17