IT'S generally the first thing we notice when we meet someone. Judgments are often drawn from a person's face. I've never seen the face of Christ Jesus, of course, and even artists' renditions of his face have never much remained in my thought. But I have often thought of how John the Baptist responded to Jesus when the Way-shower came to him for baptism. John felt sure that Jesus did not need his baptism, for his goodness, his purity, his sinless selfhood, were obvious.1 Many others must have seen something of the same qualities in Jesus. Yet there were some who, when they saw Jesus, saw an enemy, a threat to community tranquillity and long-cherished religious tradition. The face--the countenance or character--of Jesus must not have seemed beautiful or reassuring to them.
The contrast between these two responses is obvious, and we have the New Testament to inform our own judgment of Jesus and to prepare our thought for appreciating and loving him. But how might we have responded without that aid? Would we have had the spiritual and moral discernment of character that would have penetrated material appearances and seen the spiritual nature of the man, and known that he was the Son of God?
The question is not really a historical one, for it relates to our own need today when we face our family and friends, colleagues at work, and strangers in the community. Are we able to get past the material appearances and discern the spiritual, Godlike nature of man that is each individual's true identity?
The teachings of Christian Science reassure us that this spiritual capacity is available to each of us and that it brings healing to hurt and disease and mistakes. An analogy is given in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,2 that likens each one of us to a sculptor in life. The question is posed: ``What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering?'' And then: ``Have you accepted the mortal model?''3
Christian Science shows that we can turn away from mortal models of man and with a deep inner spiritual and moral sense begin to discern man as the image and likeness of God, infinite good. This spiritual vision is hinted at in the beauty we see in someone we love--we love him or her because of what we know about that person. It is what we know that makes the face lovely, not the other way around.
Man, created by God, is the reflection of God, of Soul. Each one of us is His expression. The more we learn of man's perfect, spiritual selfhood as the expression of God, the more we will reflect the purity, the goodness, the spiritual beauty and character that constitute the child of infinite Love and Life.
The real key to being ``good-looking'' and seeing the good in others that is worth cherishing is found in spiritual and moral character, which is not subject to the ravages of age. That character comes from godliness; and divine Love, God, gives such good to each one of us.
We can begin today to part with the selfishness, fear, or egotism that would blind us to the good that God gives universally. When we are no longer afraid that good comes to some but not to all, the competitiveness and fear that hide man's true spiritual beauty will be put off. We will come to know divine Love, be good as a result, and feel the acceptability that is right and normal to have.
The author of II Corinthians in the Bible caught a deep glimpse of that spiritual truth when he wrote, ``We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.''4 Now, there's a recipe for beauty, in ourselves and others, that will be reflected in a new look at faces.
1See Matthew 3:13, 14. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 248. 4II Corinthians 3:18. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:7