By: Sarah Brazle (New York City)
Did you know that when God looks at someone who loves Him and His Son, He doesn’t see “ugly”, “messed up”, or “sinful”? He sees BEAUTY, PERFECTION, and LOVE. The best analogy that I have ever heard, pertaining to God’s view of us, is this: “When God looks at us, He sees a reflection of Himself”. Wow! To me, that simple sentence resounds with hope, grace, mercy, and generates in me all kinds of layers upon layers of thankfulness. It is so good to know that when God sees me, He doesn’t see every imperfection that I have, every sin that I have carried out, or every wrong that I will someday commit. His love and salvation have blanketed me so snugly that He can’t help but see Himself. There are no more black spots, no more gooey stains. It’s just me and God.
For a very long time, I have lived with the idea that God expects us to somehow earn His love. I have had countless days of guilt — all because I knew I wasn’t reading my Bible like I should or praying as often as I should or doing any number of things that would hopefully make God see that I was a good person, who deserved His love. I can’t tell you the times that people have tried to guilt-trip me and my fellow VBS friends by reminding us that Jesus died on a cross for our sins so we need to do this, this, and this….
Now let me back-track for just a second. If God sees Himself when He looks at us, will anything we ever do make us look better, be a better Christian, or earn us His love? While many Christians have the right idea (that we should obey God), I think they often get confused with the idea that obeying God will somehow make them more worthy. But, if God sees Himself when He looks at us, how could we ever become more worthy than that? We must die to our self righteousness…because nothing we ever do will make us a better or worse Christian. Jesus has covered us fully and if we have truly accepted that love, we will also choose to live in a way that pleases God….while knowing that no matter what, we are still covered by grace; not good works. (Romans 6 is a great place to read about this).
This is one of the major reasons why I love Global City Mission Initiative (GCMI). Instead of trying to tell people that they must first clean themselves up and be a good person, before God will love them, GCMI is meeting people where they are, just as Christ did. They are hanging out with the “prostitutes and tax collectors”, so to speak, and teaching them about the unconditional love that is offered through Christ. So refreshing!
There are so many people that are lost around me, from the Jehovah Witnesses to the Atheist, but because of GCMI, I am learning how to reach these people, proclaiming good news and not pharisaic rules. Jesus didn’t tell us to read our Bibles every night, to go to church every week, or to only listen to Christian music. Jesus came proclaiming love, coming to not judge but to redeem. We make things so complicated, with so many rules, while missing the one thing that actually saves us; accepting Jesus as our salvation. We absolutely cannot save ourselves. We are in complete and utter need of a Savior.