I’ll be honest, this week has been one where I’ve had several pieces in mind to write but where none of them have been completed to a point where I’m entirely happy with them. There’s also several other things ticking over in the background which I’m looking forward to sharing with you in due course. So today’s piece is actually something I wrote almost six years ago to the day. It’s one of my favourites, yet also one of my least read.
I had had a day of struggling with how I viewed myself and someone very close to me challenged me to write five ways that God views me.
What follows was the result.
While this is written from my perspective, I believe this is how God views all his children; so please do substitute your name for mine where appropriate! And if you’re not (yet) a Christian and would like discuss this further do reach out here, via my website samuelsthorp.co.uk or on twitter @SamuelSThorp.
Samuel S. Thorp 23rd October 2014
My Lord and God views me through his own heavenly eyes in a way in which I shall never be able to fully grasp or comprehend. The challenge is to find five ways that God views me. I’m sure that I could find five verses in scripture that talk about value and self worth being given by God, but that’s not the way in which God views me. Therefore I’m going to quickly outline 5 perspectives or lenses that I think God looks at me in/through.
The First is the pre-temporal. ‘From before the foundations of the earth’ God knew his people. Jeremiah says that even in the womb, God knew him. Maybe the womb isn’t prior to time, but it’s prior to our conscious perception of life and from the beginning, and before the beginning, God knew me. In Job it suggests that he set out my days before hand. This has two implications, the first being the sheer enormity of God and who he is. That he can and does know every single person and all of who they are from before all of time is staggering. The second is this, that I am known personally by name from before all things. That’s mental.
This leads into the second ‘lens’; as an individual. Jesus says that God knows the number of hairs upon my head, and presumably the length of each one too! This is important, I am loved and judged as an individual by God. This doesn’t place me on an equal plane with him but neither am I so insignificant that he neglects me. Indeed, to him I am his subject and he is intimately concerned with my life and being and what I do.
Out of this interest comes the third; the lens of Jesus. By the incarnation, life, works, worship and obedience of Jesus, even obedience to death upon the Cross, Jesus is himself God entered into the world of man, living as a man, worshipping as a man. By his death on the cross and the testimony of the resurrection, Jesus once and for all in a way that can never be torn asunder nor changed unites humanity to God. By the Ascension, the God who entered creation draws creation to heaven and pours out his Holy Spirit upon all of creation. As ‘Samuel’ God knows me intimately and judges me for both the good and the bad that I do. But through baptism I am indwelled by the Spirit of Christ and my person is united to his person, Samuel is drawn up into and hidden with Jesus. As such when God looks upon me with all my flaws and inadequacies all he sees is Jesus. No longer am I dirty and unclean but I have been dressed in the robes of righteousness that Jesus wears. I am no longer merely a subject to be judged and condemned but a friend of God. Unlike Moses, my friendship is not contingent upon my ethical standards, though these matter, but rather upon the God-become-Man that is Jesus. In Jesus I am seen as I am and enabled by the Spirit to be loved by God and to, in response, love God.
This brings me onto point number four: the Church. It is often said, and rightly so, that God is Love. By this the clearest explanation seems to come from John where he says that the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son and that Jesus hopes that by the Holy Spirit, believers will be in the Father and the Son in the same way as they are in each other. In Augustinian terms, this means that the Holy Spirit is the person who is the ‘bond of love’ between the Father and the Son, and when we have the Spirit within us we are joined into the Son and the Father’s joint love. This leads to Church. If I am in the Son and someone else is in the Son then we are united together in the body of the Son. Therefore all who are united to the Son in the Holy Spirit are united together and God sees both the individual, the individual in Christ and the community in Christ. He has done so since before the beginning of all things! This means that when God looks at me he sees me as part of a harmonious body of believers responding to his love in worship, acts of justice and in their relationships with one another.
Lastly, this fourfold view that God has is incomplete. Just as God knows the beginning, he also knows the ending. Just as before the first creation and its subsequent fall he knew my name and saw me as an individual who would be hidden with Christ and as part of the Church, so before the second creation he knows who I am. In this second creation he knows whether we will be with him in life, or whether we have rejected his love and embraced our fallen states, entering into eternal death. Being hid in Christ, my name is written in the book of life and when the old earth and the old heavens pass away, I shall be resurrected with the rest of humanity to join with the fellow believers in Christ that form his bride, his church. On that day when the trumpet sounds I, who have been known since before it all began, shall be known as an individual and judged. Yet for my sins and flaws, God the Father shall deem it fit to look upon me and to see his Son Jesus present by the Holy Spirit. Declared a friend and son of God, I shall walk into the new Eden and eat of the banquet table with Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David and Jesus; filled with a life that shall never die.
I am dead, I am dying, I will die.
I will be alive, I am living, I have been made alive.
God has seen me from before all things, he sees me as I am, he sees me clothed in Christ, he sees me in his Church and he will see me in his kingdom that has no end.
With every blessing,
Samuel S. Thorp
Husband | Priest | Wanderer