February 3, 2018

Does God Have an App to Read Our Face?

Leave it to the Japanese! According to NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, the electronics giant Hitachi is testing a smartphone app “to promote workers’ health management.” Given Japan’s legendary penchant for work productivity, such “health management” likely means a new company tool to keep much closer tabs on employees’ work output and efficiency as related to personal health and habits.

According to this report last month, all the app requires is a photograph of the employee. From it, the app “can estimate blood circulation, pulse rate, and stress levels,” key indicators of employee health. Furthermore, “if users input their alcohol intake, and their experience of hangovers —Japan is the land of sake (rice whiskey)—, the app will calculate a hangover threshold for each individual.” All they need is a picture of your face.

“A Hitachi engineer says users can input data to smartphones easily and at any time. He says he hopes companies will use the app to better understand the health status of their employees,” wrote the same source.

God’s Face Recognition App

Ignoring for now the personal liberty/freedom implications of intrusive electronic monitoring —given Apple’s new face recognition technology, I suppose this is but a new normal for our “brave new world”— it makes you wonder, does God have an app to read our face? Or to put it another way, what if we had an app that through face recognition was able to read our hearts? What if we could snap a selfie, submit it to the app, and get a print out of our spiritual health, the conditions of our deep innermost soul?

“Then the Lord’s said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?’” (Gen. 4:7). Looks like God has had a face-recognition app from the very beginning! “And seeing the crowds [Jesus] was moved inwardly with compassion for them, because they were in distress and cast down, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).[i]

Contemplating His Face

But what if it weren’t our faces that mattered as much as it is His face? It was that way for David: “Let the light of Your face shine on us” (Ps. 4:6); “My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’” (Ps. 27:8); “Let Your face shine on your servant” (Ps. 31:16); “Look to the Lord and His strength—seek His face always” (Ps. 105:4).

It was that way for Moses, too. Ellen G. White wrote that “Moses did not merely think of God; he saw Him.” Face to face? Keeping reading: “God was the constant vision before him; he never lost sight of His face.” Is this face to face or faith to faith? Keep reading: “He saw Jesus as his Savior, and… [this] faith was to Moses no guesswork; it was a reality.”[ii]

What Moses experienced by faith we can, too. Keep reading: “This is the kind of faith we need, faith… [to] keep our eye upon Jesus!” Just like Moses, just like David, we can “see” His face: “My [friend], make Christ your daily, hourly companion, and you will not complain that you have no faith. Contemplate Christ. View His character. Talk of Him.”[iii]

Gregory Boyd’s testimony still rings true: “My life is Christ—nothing else really matters.”[iv]

Does Christ have an app to read our faces and our hearts, too? Of course He does. But the good news is that He’s inviting us to “seek His face,” to “view His character,” to know His love. Contemplate that picture in your heart every new morning, and chances are great peop

[i]David Bentley Hart, A Translation: The New Testament (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2017).

[ii]Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5 (Mountain View, Cal.: Pacific Press Publ. Assoc., 1889), p. 652.


[iv]Gregory A. Boyd, Present Perfect (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2010), p. 57.