You know the first time you walked into your new job or your new school? You had no familiarity that day. No memories tying you to any specific place. Everything was new.
But later, as that place had become familiar, you saw it differently. It’s almost as if your memories have created two different places in your mind.
I can think back to the first times I went into each of the schools I have worked in. And when I think back to that first time I walked into the unfamiliar building, I can picture a completely different place in my mind. Surely, this isn’t where I ended up working, right?
For now, those buildings are filled with memories and conversations and tears and faces of students and coworkers. I know the smells and the twists and turns and what’s behind each of the doors.
It looks physically different than the first time I was there.
We do this with people, too.
Think about the first time you met your best friend or significant other. Maybe you thought them attractive, maybe not, but either way you saw them differently than you do now because you didn’t know them as deeply.
And what happens? The more you get to know (and love) this person, the more attractive and beautiful they become to you. It’s a deep kind of beauty that isn’t just based on their looks—but as you’ve gotten to know them intimately and understood their heart—you see a new kind of beauty.
So, what if this is true about God? A lot of people may assume that because God knows us so deeply, he cannot possibly think we are beautiful. But as we get to know people and grow in our love for them, they become more beautiful. So, if God knows us deeply and loves us deeply, then he must behold a deep beauty in us.
Afterall, there’s nothing in us left for him to figure out or get to know any better. Sure, we can know a person intimately, but we will never know someone to the depth that God knows us. And because he knows us, he sees us for who we are:
The most beautiful versions of ourselves.
Even With All of My Flaws?
Now, we can’t ignore that we are deeply flawed. All of us. And saying that God sees us as beautiful would mean that he either finds our flaws beautiful, or he ignores our flaws.
Which one is it?
None of them.
And with a closer look, we realize that neither of these options give us the satisfaction we need.
Let’s start with what it would mean if God found our flaws beautiful.
We would like this answer because it reminds us of a nice romantic movie where the man finds the woman beautiful because of her flaws. But two things are wrong with this:
- In the movies, the man tends to love the cute, dainty flaws such as her stubbornness or indecisiveness or inability to tame her hair. But our flaws are much deeper and nastier than that.
- We don’t even love our own flaws. As nice as it would be to have God love them (so that we can teach ourselves to love our flaws) we will find that there’s a reason we don’t love our flaws. They get in the way of who we were created to be. They pull us away from God.
So, if God doesn’t love our flaws, then he must ignore them, right? No. God cannot ignore evil, nor the way it has infiltrated and wreaked havoc on his creation. To God, our flaws have a name: sin. And while our culture tends to shrink from this word these days, what we have to understand is the true definition.
Sin means that we are missing the mark of what it means to be our true, God-created selves. Our sin causes us to miss the mark of who we were created to be. We disobeyed the created order.
God cannot ignore this because he wants to destroy all that is infected with evil and restore the beauty to his creation.
So God came up with a brilliant plan to destroy evil without destroying his beloved creation. He would destroy sin’s hold on us. This plan would turn our flaws into something beautiful.
God put on flesh as the person of Jesus and dwelled with his creation. Love put on flesh. Peace put on flesh. Kindness put on flesh.
And while the Romans and Jews crucified Jesus because of his “criminality”—something spiritual was happening. All of our sin—all of our flaws—were put onto Jesus and nailed to the cross.
Three days later, Love in the flesh burst from the grave. God had turned death into something beautiful: He brought us new life and redeemed our flaws.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God does see our flaws—and he did something about them. This is much more satisfying to our souls. We do not want to celebrate our flaws as something beautiful and we do not want to ignore them. We know that neither of these is right—even if they give us temporary comfort.
What we wanted was our flaws destroyed—but God brought us new life.
Now, our weaknesses actually reveal God’s strength.
Now, God is taking every one of our flaws and flipping them upside down to turn them into something beautiful.
He is turning your pride into humility.
He is turning your insecurity into freedom.
He is turning your sadness into joy.
He is turning your ashes into beauty.
He is turning your anger into righteous zeal.
The beauty about what Jesus accomplished through his death and resurrection is not just that he completely destroyed evil, it’s that he turned every evil thing into something good.
So, how does God know us so deeply that he sees us as beautiful right now? That he would actually like us right now? Aren’t we still a work in progress? Aren’t we still flawed? Aren’t we still messing up every single day?
Dane Ortlund in his article, “Does God Like Me?” says this about God’s love: “God’s children must know that their sins do not push God farther away from them; they pull him closer, like a father who wants to embrace an afflicted child.”
Because of what Christ did for us, God’s love draws us deeper to himself than we could ever imagine and it is this same love that transforms us.
Second Corinthians 3:18 says: “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The “right-now” reality is that we are being transformed into the image of God from one degree of glory to the next. Every day we look more and more like Jesus. This scripture says that we are a mirror-image of God!
The very person God created us to be was lost in a heap of sin, but when Jesus came on the scene and pronounced victory over sin and death, we were then given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3). We are literally being transformed into the very person that God created us to be.
Now, we live in the weird tension of “already, but not yet” as we live in this heavenly reality of completeness in Christ, but the earthly reality of our messy lives. But the truth we get to live in right now is that we are deeply known by God. And that means that God is beholding true and deep beauty in us. Now it’s our job to see what God sees.