Written by Bill Gaultiere | Soulshepherding.org
 
Did you know that recent scientific research actually confirms that our beliefs about God change our brain circuits! When we worship the true God with our hearts it activates brain pathways and turns on higher brain regions that help us to become more like Jesus, more compassionate, wise, humble, and confident. But lower views of God correspond with activity in more primitive brain regions along with selfishness, fear, and anger (Tim Jennings, M.D. reports these findings in his book, The God Shaped Brain.)
 
Of course, the Bible described the powerful impacts of our image of God long before brain science. In John’s gospel we read that knowing the true God and Jesus Christ is how we experience eternal life (John 17:3). While Paul warns that if we exchange the truth of God for distorted images of him then our minds will become darkened and we will be ruined by sin (Romans 1:28-31).
 
What Expression Do You See on God’s Face?
 
A.W. Tozer wrote his classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy, to elevate our minds and hearts to be absorbed with the majesty of God. He emphasized the significance of our image of God:What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…
 
That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God. (p. 1-2)
 
How do you experience God personally? How do you feel in your relationship with him? When you look into God’s face you may feel as if he’s frowning or staring blankly.
 
For all of us, it’s easy to project onto God. I studied this in my PhD dissertation and found that there was a correlation between our experience of our father and God as you’d expect, but there was an even greater correlation with our experience of our mother and God. And the largest correlation was between our self-image and our God-image.
 
Consider how you treat yourself, especially your inner, child-like self. Do you feel that you’re too needy or too emotional? Do you get impatient, perfectionistic, or critical with yourself? Do you lose touch with your emotions? You’re likely to experience God in the same way.
 
Smiling in God’s Love
 
Jesus shows us that God is all-powerful and gentle, compassionate and holy, wise and personable. God is our Abba Father who loves us with joy and abandon! But to know God this way we need to have personal experiences with this kind of love, first of all, with other people that we’re vulnerable with, and then through spiritual contact with God through Scripture meditation and prayer.
 
The ultimate source of our joy and power to bless others is knowing with confidence that God’s loving face is shining upon us. When we behold the smile of Jesus in our hearts while we are teaching a Bible study or listening to a friend share it ministers the grace of God to people in ways that are far deeper than words can convey.
 
Test this out. The next time you are serving someone or ministering in the name of Jesus while you’re doing this smile your appreciation for the Lord who is smiling at you and see how it affects the people you’re caring for.
 

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