What does God see when he looks at you?

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

What do you think God sees when he looks at you?

I didn’t ask what you think others see.

I didn’t ask what you think you see when you look at yourself, but it’s an interesting question.

We tend toward extremes. We might as well admit it. Most of us have had occasional fits of self-righteousness when we were pretty full of ourselves, pretty sure that God was lucky to have us on his team. Pretty sure that, unlike that of ordinary unspiritual folks, our own belly button lint is perfumed. Because we’re so very spiritual, donchaknow? That view smells. Not like perfume.

But most of us fall off the fence more often in the other direction. When we look at ourselves, we tend to focus on our flaws. We know how very often our weakness, faithlessness and improper focus throw us off the track.

But my question is, “What do you think GOD sees when he looks at you?” That can be a scary question. See the preceding paragraph for reasons why. We don’t live up to our own standards, much less God’s.

Somebody reminds us that the blood of Christ makes each one of God’s people clean, and we try to believe it. But then we look around at God’s people and it surely seems that a good many of them “have it together.”

They look so shiny.

They look so spiritual.

Should we feel good about that? Maybe, but it actually makes us feel even worse. Then we feel bad about feeling bad.

Oh, I thank God for the church. It can be the best place in the world to find acceptance, joy, healing tears, life-affirming laughter, and love. It can be so very good! And I so hope you’re a genuine part of a great church. But sometimes . . .

Sometimes right there in the place where everyone’s hope is in Christ’s perfection, not their own, we find ourselves feeling hopeless and inadequate yet again, trampled in a stained-glass version of the same competitive rat race that infects the world. We’d so longed for some comfort, some peace. Instead, we at times have found ourselves feeling like a pretty bedraggled rat, measuring ourselves, even in a place where everyone should know for sure that by their own power nobody measures up.

 Ah, but there’s the problem. We’re measuring. We’re comparing. In the world. In the church. Maybe we need to stop accepting the conclusions of others and accept only the verdict of our Father.

Maybe some who are religious are cold and thin and unsmiling, brittle and hard. But not our Father.

Maybe some who are religious feel pleasure when others feel small. But not our Father.

So, here’s that question again. What do you think God sees when he looks at you?

He sees a child in whom he delights. When we think about that and focus on his strength, his tenderness, his love, how can we be anything but thankful?