You and I are the image of God. In sin, and outside of Christ, we are like a slowly fading photograph that will one day perish. In Christ, we are born again. We have passed from death to life, and as we stand unveiled before Him each Lord’s day, our faces are being sculpted and renewed in His image.
The Apostle Paul put it this way,
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
God did not “deposit” His image in some part of Adam. It is not some part of his heart or mind. It is not his soul or his spirit. It is the man himself, from head to toe, inside and out, that is the image of God.
And so, Jesus said,
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
The reason for this is that man is all of a piece. He is not, as modern pop psychology would have you believe, a mishmash of bits and pieces to be placed under a microscope. Though made up of lungs, legs, body and soul, he’s a single entity.
Because this is true, what a man is, is written all over his heart and all over his face.
The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? (Genesis 4:6)
While God undoubtedly knew what was going on in Cain’s heart, one didn’t need to be a super-apostle to work out how Cain was doing. It was written all over his face.
Likewise, the look on Moses’ face told you exactly where he had been the night before.
And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands, he was unaware that his face had become radiant from speaking with the Lord. (Exodus 34:29)
Our hardness of heart is reflected in our faces,
A wicked man hardens his face, but the upright man makes his way sure. (Proverbs 21:29)
As is a heart transformed by the wisdom of God in the gospel.
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. (Ecclesiastes 8:1)
I would argue from this that the converse is also true. Because man is a single entity, what he does with his body will deeply affect his heart and mind. Those who give their hands to the making of idols become dumb, like them (Psalm 115:4-5, 8). Those who hand their bodies over to depravity go mad (Romans 1:28).
In the same way, a holy kiss communicates the bonds of love (2 Corinthians 13:12), a warm hug settles an anxious heart, a glad heart makes a cheerful face, and a cheerful face makes the heart glad.
And so Jesus became a man, made in the image of God, that we might see Him and be glad.
Sure, a letter from a friend is a great encouragement. But turning up (2 Corinthians 7:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:17) with a smiling face and a shoulder to lean on is even better (John 13:23).
God gave us faces, starting with His own (Psalm 80:3), to gladden the heart. He gave us arms, starting with His own, to comfort with His love.
And this is us; here we are – the image of God. From head to toe, inside and out. But if we remove or conceal His image, our love and our gladness will soon grow cold (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Go show your face, lean in with a shoulder or a hug, and so gladden someone else’s heart with the image of God today.