By Elizabeth Prata
One aspect of relationships I find difficult as an autistic person is faces. I don’t understand them, they convey too much emotion for me to process, and they’re scary. And forget watching singing, with faces stretched and askew from the effort to belt out a song. I always look away from faces, and thus, eye contact is hard.
But some faces are easier to look at. I often wanted to know why I find some faces tolerable while others are a drain on my mental and emotional faculties.
There are mature saints I admire. Some I know in real life, others I see online or distantly at a podium at a conference or other gathering. Some have the face of angels.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)
And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15). He spoke with power and wisdom and grace (Acts 6:8, 10).
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29)
And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15)
As we are conformed into the likeness of Jesus, (Romans 8:29) it’s not only our minds He is transforming. The closer we become to Jesus in spirit, and thus conformed more to His image, the more our faces will show it. His gentleness will be on our face. His goodness will shine from our face. His kindness will flow from our face.
The more mature we become the more we will have practiced the discipline of restraining our sinful thoughts, our anger, and other sins that eventually show up on our face. Where before we actively suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), when we spend time with Jesus, our faces shine. Isn’t it logical to think that when we suppressed the truth as non-believers, the unrighteousness that was left makes our faces hard? And the more we are conformed to His likeness, our faces become tender?
And Jesus notices. When God spoke with Cain, God asked after Cain’s face, because “his countenance fell”. Cain was angry and jealous, and it showed on his face. God noted this. The more we sin the more it declares itself in our demeanor and our body, especially the face, which is what we present to the world (and to God).
As our children grow, we might not notice day-to-day that they have shot up an inch or two, but over time we can see the progress. It’s the same with our conforming to Christ. The Greek word for conforming is a compound word- symmorphous. You can see morph in the word, as in metamorphosis. Morph means to change shape.
Anyway, not to go on too long about this, but just remember, as we grow in Christ-likeness, our faces change, literally change, as His goodness sculpts away the hard character that we once possessed and the sinful residue is melted. We’re conformed to Him, with all its goodness, kindness, gentleness. Just think of the Day when we are finally totally conformed and our faces show no traces of sin whatsoever! What a day that will be!