What picture comes to mind when you think about Jesus Christ? Is it a painting that hangs on the wall in your church that you've seen since you were a child?
Is it a more recent painting by a famous artist?
In countries all over the Earth, people have a different image of Christ.
One of my favorite artists depicts Christ in every day situations with his friends and playing with children.
And I am pretty sure that that is not what Christ looked like.
When I sculpted a doll for my mother, I looked at pictures of Semitic people.
If you Google images of "Jesus Christ", you get several different pictures. Everything from first century paintings to photographs of actors portraying Him. BBC even hired a forensic anthropologist to make an educated guess as to what Jesus may have looked like.
But what does it mean to have "His image in our countenance?"
How do we change as we try to live his teachings? And how does this happen?
A favorite story illustrates this process.
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi,
and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
While reading Malachi chapter 3, a group of women in a Bible study came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."One woman spoke up and said the verse was intended to convey the sanctifying influence of the grace of God. Then she said she would visit a silversmith and report to the other women what he said on the subject.She went accordingly and, without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which the smith described to her."But, sir," she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?""Oh, yes, ma'am," replied the silversmith. "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."The woman at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace: His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random: "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."As the woman was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way to know when the purifying process is complete is . . .. . .when he can see his own image reflected in the silver.
It is through adversity, and obeying His commandments that we change. There is a softening of our features as well as our hearts as we learn to love ourselves and others.
When we begin to follow in His footsteps we will encounter stumbling blocks; maybe even boulders that we will have to move, or climb over. They can harden us, or make us softer to the will of our Father in Heaven.
It's our decision.
And when we pray, and listen, and study His word, we come to know Him. No matter what He may look like, we will know Him, the way we know a close family member or friend.
And more importantly, He will know us by our fruits.