“His Image in Our Countenances,” Ensign, June 1996, 70
In the fifth chapter of his book, Alma asks Church members of his day a series of penetrating questions. “Have ye spiritually been born of God? … Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” he asks in verse 14. [Alma 5:14] “Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?” (Alma 5:15). “Can ye look up to God … with a pure heart and clean hands … , having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:19).
These are all good questions we need to ask ourselves today.
The process by which we become “born of God” and have his image “engraven upon [our] countenances” begins with faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith motivates us to repent and make covenants with the Savior through the ordinances of the gospel. As we keep our covenants, the Lord blesses us with his Holy Spirit, which purifies and changes our hearts.
A great many members of the Church have experienced this mighty change of heart and can truthfully and humbly answer yes to Alma’s questions. Others may not as yet have made the personal commitment necessary for that change to happen. Still others may have experienced the change, but, with the press of daily problems, may sometimes wonder if they really do reflect the Lord’s love in their lives.
No matter what our spiritual condition, time spent alone with our Heavenly Father in prayer and meditation can lead to insight and personal growth. Through this process, which can be like looking at ourselves in a mirror, we may discover things about ourselves that need changing. At other times, we may find that the reflection we see does indeed mirror the Lord’s image. One sister recently described such a personal experience:
“One evening, during fervent prayer about some serious difficulties in my life, I felt the comforting warmth of Heavenly Father’s love radiating through my body. As I gratefully closed my prayer and arose to dry my tears, I glanced into the mirror. At that moment there was no doubt that the Spirit had, at least briefly, touched and refined my physical features, as well as my heart. Its visible effects faded within seconds, but the feeling of absolute love remained with me for a time. This experience has deepened my desire to be more worthy of the Spirit’s companionship.”
As members of the Lord’s true church, we are encouraged to measure ourselves against “the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Like this sister, we can take our measure through prayer and meditation. Scripture study and partaking of the emblems of the sacrament also invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. Such moments can be sacred. Under the influence of the Spirit, we may learn what it is we lack to become more Christlike. At other times, we may receive the comforting assurance that our efforts are accepted. In either case, we will leave the experience more centered in mind and spirit on Jesus Christ.
As we thus center our lives on Jesus Christ, we can experience the mighty change Alma spoke of and reflect more clearly the image of God in our countenances.
What are some ways we can invite the Spirit into our lives?
What does it mean to you to have God’s image in our countenances?