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Radiant Christians

Psalms 43:5: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

A Christian ought to be noticeably different in appearance, particularly the expression on his face, and also different in behaviour from unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 2:16: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

Something difficult to define happens to Christians that makes it possible for them to recognize each other. The Bible calls it a savour. When Divinity impacts a person changes in him are sometimes apparent immediately and sometimes they take time to become apparent.

I have personally noticed changes in the faces of many people when they trust Christ as Saviour. There is on their faces a new softness, a new peace, a new joy, a new attractiveness and a new wonder at what God has done for them. Jesus is the light of the world. I attribute the changes to having the light of the world in their hearts.

I have heard other Christians speak about or write about noticing a difference in the appearance of a person who has trusted Christ, but I have never heard another Christian speak about a change in a person who has rejected Christ. I would not attach very much importance to it but I have noticed changes in a few people who have refused to receive Christ. They seem proud. Their neck seems to become stiff. I have noticed a change in the position of their shoulders, a darkness in their eyes, a shrinking of their pupils. When we go from darkness to light the pupils of our eyes do get smaller. I believe that what I have seen is a similar reaction when one rejects the light of Christ. Some have actually appeared to become suddenly unattractive or even ugly before my eyes.

Nehemiah 9:29: And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.

I have noticed a difference in the smiles of those receiving Christ and those rejecting Him. The smiles of one rejecting Christ are short-lived or totally absent. I can only describe the smile of one who has heard the gospel and rejected it as a triumphant smile. They seem aware that they have resisted something powerful. They are unaware that they have rejected something wonderful. I would call it a proud smile or a plastic smile. The smiles of those receiving Christ are more genuine and longer lasting. Sometimes they can*t seem to stop smiling. Many shed tears. I sometimes ask if those are tears of joy and they tell me that they are. None have ever shed tears while rejecting Christ.

It is interesting to me that Cain*s appearance changed when he rejected God by rejecting God*s method of sacrifice in favor of his own. I have definitely seen some people become angry when rejecting Christ.

Genesis 4:5-6: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

There was also a young man who, when rejecting Jesus went away sad and grieved.

Mark 10:21-22: Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Proverbs 13:15: Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

It seems to me that the hardness of his way sometimes shows up immediately on the face of one rejecting Christ. The light burden and the easy yoke of Christ seems to put an immediate expression of relief on the faces of those who receive Him. When we are uncomfortable it often shows up on our faces. I would describe the change I often see on the face of one receiving Christ as a look of comfort. When people reject Christ they also reject the Comforter (the Holy Spirit). I would describe the look on their faces as very uncomfortable.

John 14:16: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Some have been gracious and gentle in refusing to receive Christ. It may be that they do not want it to be a final refusal.

After Moses had been in the presence of God his face shone so brightly that he had to cover it so that he wouldn*t frighten those who saw him. I believe the differences in the appearance of Christians are due to our being in the presence of God. We have that presence 24/7 in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Exodus 34:29-30: And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses* hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Exodus 34:35: And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses* face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Betty Jo Mathis has beautifully expressed in her article and poem in the Publication Bits of Sonshine what she has noticed about the difference in many Christian seniors. The article and poem follow.

In our Nursing Home Ministries, we meet interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Thus we observe a great variety of facial expressions. Some dear people present a countenance contorted in pain, some brows are furrowed with care, some faces are flushed with anger and frustration. Others show a passive resignation to whatever life throws at them. But what a blessing to us are those faces that may be tear-stained from sorrow or pale from illness, yet are radiant.

One of my favorite Scripture verses is Psalm 34:5: They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

I read about a jungle chieftain named Peremba who was confused and curious about some natives from down river who often visited his tribe. Peremba had noticed something different about their faces. What did they use to make their faces shine? Was it grease from the wild pig? Was it oil from the coconut? One day Peremba gathered courage and asked one of the men, What do you put on your face to make it shine? With surprise the man answered, I don*t put anything on it. Peremba insisted. Oh, but you must use something on your face. I see the same thing on the faces of those other people who come here to tell me about the Living God. Their faces are radiant.

Now I know what you mean, the other native exclaimed, I will tell you the secret. We are Christians and it is not something we put on from the outside that makes our faces shine, but something that comes from within. It is a reflection of the light of God in our hearts.

Each of us prefers a radiant face to a gloomy one. Sometimes we see people with radiant faces because they have perhaps recovered from a serious illness, or they came into an inheritance, or bought a new car, or welcomed a first child into their home, or returned from active military duty. But radiance that results from outward circumstances may soon fade away. The Bible speaks of a radiance that comes from within the believer. It is a radiance that is gotten from looking to the Lord, -- a radiance that replaces shame and confusion.

Do you remember the Old Testament story of Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1? Hannah was barren, brokenhearted and confused. She had cried her eyes out over her inability to conceive and no one understood her grief -- not her husband, not the priest, and surely not that other woman who had babies galore. So Hannah went to the temple and poured out her heart to the Lord. That done, she returned to her home and her face was no longer sad. Hannah had looked to the Lord and her face was radiant.

The New Testament explains this radiance as coming from a supernatural light within. It*s not dependent on cosmetics or pleasant circumstances. It is a radiance that other people notice, but something of which the radiant person is unaware. It is a radiance that is evident in spite of ridicule and rejection, as with Stephen, whose face was like an angel*s during his unfair trial and death. (Acts 6 and 7)

A person doesn*t need to be naturally beautiful to be radiant. The rays of a candle are not hindered by the plainness of the candle stick. The radiance comes from the candle, not the holder. The Apostle Paul says the inner Light which causes a person to radiate is like a priceless treasure in an earthen vessel or clay pot. God planned it that way so that others will know the radiance is from Him and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7)

Do we believers have a radiance about us that puzzles others, as in the story of the jungle chieftain? In Colossians 1:27, Paul reveals the secret of that mysterious radiance. He says, To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Lord, let Thy flame shine out through me;
I have not light apart from Thee.
Thy lamp am I -- a vessel only,
To light the way for lost and lonely.
A vessel made from earthen clay
So folks may know that flickering ray
Receives its warmth from Thee alone,
The True Light from my Father*s throne.
Oh, may this vessel not be proud
And shout its virtues to the crowd;
For in spite of what the pot may say
The crowd will know it*s made of clay.

Care to discuss Radiant Christians with Ron?

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