In Alma 5:14, he asks, “Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received His image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”
What does it mean to have Christ’s image in your countenance?
First, let’s define what His image is in order to answer this: Mosiah 7:27 says that Christ would take upon Him the image of man, which is the same image after which man was created. So, we are already created in His image. BUT, do we look like Christ Himself? What He stood for? Do we portray the image of a Christian? Although we are all created in His image… to actually have His image within us would mean we would have to live our lives in the way that He did. Serving others, obeying God’s commandments, and doing everything that we can to help build the Kingdom of God.
Alma 32:31 says, “every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.” – Are you striving to be a Christ-like seed that is growing and learning by His example?
If you feel that your countenance has strayed from His image, go to Him. Draw closer to your Savior. As you do this, you will begin to see everything and everyone the way that He does and will become more like Him. I’ve seen this so much in my life.
My institute teacher would always tell us that the way we treat other people is a direct reflection of our relationship with the Savior
I’ve noticed that any time I ever focus more on the negativity in people, it’s my own problem. It’s usually because my relationship with the Savior is not where it should be, and so I’m not seeing things through the eyes of Christ. The closer I draw to my Savior, the more everything becomes clear to me. I truly see everyone around me as a child of God and I have such a deep love for them and a desire to serve them. I don’t think I’ve ever fully experienced that kind of Christ-like love for people until this year. I didn’t completely understand and strive to develop Christ-like attributes until I started to fully engage myself in studying the gospel and the life of my Savior. It has changed me SO much! My entire focus is different. I have felt myself not only becoming more like Christ through my actions, but I have felt His image become engraved in me and now it’s just becoming who I am. It’s amazing what the Lord can make of us if we allow Him. A couple of years ago, I would have never dreamed of becoming the person I am now. I didn’t think I could ever be strong enough to serve a mission. But I know through my own experiences that if you completely humble yourself and give yourself over to the Lord, you won’t even recognize yourself at the end of the day. You will be so much stronger than you ever thought you could be. I promise you that.
I think that a lot of times it can be difficult for us to make changes in our lives to become more like Christ because we feel like we can’t break habits that have been a part of us for so long. Or that certain aspects of our character are so engraved within us that they can’t be changed.
In preparing for my mission, I’ve been reading this article by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Seventy called The Fourth Missionary. There are some excellent passages in there and I’d like to share a few of them with you. One of them says “To believe that weakness and deficiencies in your character are unchangeable is to reject the central truth of the Plan of Salvation. You are not cast in stone. You not only can change, but you do change all the time. You are a dynamic, changing, evolving being.”
Nobody is perfect and Heavenly Father knows that. He wants to see us constantly changing and becoming better.
Another passage in the Fourth Missionary that I loved says this “Jesus Christ not only came to atone for our sins; He also came to show us the way. He is the Way. You not only may we become like Him; but everything is stacked in your favor to become like Him.
Think of this life as a path on which you never stand still. As you move forward, you incorporate into your being the characteristics and qualities of God.
Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only; to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so, you are changed to become more like Him.”
It really is such a beautiful thing. I absolutely love seeing the transformation in people who are striving to be more like Christ. I love seeing what the Lord can make of them if they allow Him.
And what’s even more amazing is that as we become more like Christ, our example will draw others unto Christ.
My institute teacher would tell us to, “live your lives in a way that people want to draw closer to Christ just by knowing you.”
Ask yourself this; “If someone was meeting me for the first time, knowing nothing about me, would they see a light from my eyes? If asked to describe me, would they describe me using some of the same qualities that Christ has? Do I look like a Christian? Do I look like someone who is truly working hard to be like Christ?”
That is something that I greatly desire. I want to always be an example of the believers. I want people to know whose name I have taken upon myself just by seeing the way I live. The way I carry myself, the way I dress, the way I speak, and the way I treat people. We should be living our lives worthy to be an instrument in His hands and representatives of everything that He stands for. We can touch the lives of so many people by doing so.
When we were baptized, we took upon us the name of Christ. We renew that covenant every Sunday as we partake of the Sacrament. How often do we really think of what that means? … To take upon us the name of Christ?
Taking upon ourselves the name of Christ can mean several things: In the first place, if we take upon ourselves his name, we are His–we belong to Him. This would be similar to having the surname of our father. Our surname identifies the family that we belong to.
Another aspect of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ is that we become His representatives; we may act officially in His name. This would include official acts of the priesthood, but it would also include acts of compassion and kindness that stem from our own initiative,
Mark 9:41 says, For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward
A third aspect of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ is the implication of obedience to His word. We should be able to sign his name to our every action. Nephi explained this in 2 Nephi 31:13–
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism–yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”
Dallin H. Oaks also explained that “we take upon us the name of Christ when we are baptized in His name, when we belong to his Church and profess our belief in him, and when we do the work of His kingdom.”
Work. Taking upon us the name of Christ and receiving His image in our countenances takes work. Charity, diligence, studying the gospel, faithful attendance to church meetings, upholding your responsibilities in church callings, regularly attending the temple, preaching the gospel, and submitting your will to the Lord to be an instrument in His hands all the days of your life. These are the things that create a Christ-like person.
We read in Alma chapter 4:11-20 that Alma was the chief judge in the people’s government. As chief judge, he had the authority to enforce the laws of the land. He was also the presiding high priest in the Church. As high priest, he had the responsibility to preach the word of God. When he saw the wickedness of the members of the Church, he resigned as chief judge and “confined himself wholly to the high priesthood … , to the testimony of the word”
President Ezra Taft Benson taught in October 1985 General conference why it became important for Alma to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than serve as chief judge:
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. … The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
In Alma 5:26, he says: “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
® Take a few seconds and ask yourself… “When was the last time I experienced something really spiritual? Something profound, that changed me for the better and turned my heart towards Christ and developing His image within me?” ® It’s easy to have the desire to strive to be more like Christ when we have spiritual experiences like that. But what about your everyday lives? Who are you when we step outside the walls of church or the temple? What about when you go to work or school or you’re around your friends? Who are you then? We live in a world where Christ is far from the countenance of many. Do you stand out as someone who represents Christ? Do your actions depict your love for Him and His gospel? I challenge you to evaluate yourself and see if your every day words and deeds follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that as I have evaluated myself and compared myself to Christ, I’ve seen more clearly the things that I can do better and my desire to become better has increased. I know that as I have made more of a conscious effort to humble myself before the Lord and to develop His image in my countenance by following His example, that I have truly found myself and who I want to be. I have found so much peace and happiness and have been able to help others along the way.