- 1 Corinthians 12:27 (ESV) – Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
- 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- Genesis 1:27 (ESV) – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them.
God knows who you are. He knew all of you before the first beam of light teased the horizon. He knew all your secrets before your very first breath. He doesn’t stop knowing because you stumble or turn away from Him. And, because He knows and loves – He loves you!– the person you are, the person you were, and the person He molds you into, take comfort. God loves all mankind; otherwise, He wouldn’t have sent His son. Remember John 3:16? It doesn’t say any one person or social group. No, God so loved the world. And honestly, that’s made all the difference.
But sometimes, we get lost in our own lives. We stop believing God loves us, because each of us strives to be so different from our neighbors. Or, we stop loving ourselves. Sometimes, we hear all the other voices screaming they know us, that we are this thing or that. To our fellow human, we are the whore, the cynic, the coward, the zealot, the narcissist, the prude, the- well, you get the idea. We adopt labels to make us palatable or pariahs to the surrounding world. When we focus on these, we often lose sight of who our Father knows we are.
Think about one of the biggest stumbling blocks Christians face when trying to connect with non-believers. Hypocrisy. There are numerous forms, but let’s address something- let’s call it the elephant in the room. We are all hypocrites. We are commanded to love one another, to show grace, and come to God with humbleness. But the truth is, we can often prove ill-tempered and graceless. We can interact with those whose presence simply irritates us and draws out unkind words. We may smash our fingers and vomit strings of profanity. We see a buffet and engorge ourselves. We are no better than anyone else.
Even so, Jesus called us to a higher standard; definitely a standard higher than the one the world would have us yield to. It’s because of this higher standard we are call to uphold that our hypocrisy becomes more apparent. Matthew 6:1 tells us to “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (ESV). Humans are fundamentally sinful creatures, who strive for the perfection found in Christ (well, if they have given their lives over to Him). Because we are sinful and prone to old routines, it’s occasionally possible to offend others, right? No. No, we offend quite often. With that being said, we should remember that only Jesus is blameless. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) declares, “For our sake we made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Romans 12:2 (ESV) commands, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed to the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We will never be good enough by the world’s standards. There will always be some measure we fall short of. Our parents, partners, friends… they will not always approve of our actions, but it is not always due to any shortcoming of our own. People are flawed. People are not God. So, when we talk about how the world sees us, we are absolutely talking about people. That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for our best. We definitely should! Instead, we need to remember that God and only God knows all of us. Don’t you think if we actually weren’t good enough, He’d have told us already? Do not misunderstand me. We are undeserving of the grace He shows us. That’s why it’s grace and not something we are owed or entitled to. We are loved by Him, despite our flaws. He judges our sin, but welcomes us into His arms when we choose to believe in His son. That’s not conforming to the world. That’s clinging to the higher standards He lays before us.
So here are my recommendations. When you look at yourself in the mirror and start to hear the multitude, remember that our Father knows you. Turn to His gospel. Pray. Live the Christ-fueled life. Hold yourself accountable and if you find that you’re doing things God’s words tell us are wrong, repent. Because in the end, who we are, who we should aspire to be, are the Children of God.