That’s not a bad question with which to start. If I could only know and took to heart how the living God saw things (and sees them now), it would transform what I esteem and value. It would upend what I pursue and protect.
Well, I’m not left to wonder. None of us are. For He has made it abundantly clear in the Scriptures. Consider just a few words from Psalm 139. Verses 13 and 14 read, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
The whole psalm speaks to the intimacy between David and the Lord. The repetition of the word “know” (vv.1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 23) sets the tone – not of knowledge factual but relational. The section just quoted stresses God’s care from the moment of our conception. And even before that.
So, knowing how God sees us, how then should translate into how I should see? At least into three areas.
First, the life issue. Every person, no matter their gender, race, capabilities, or stage of development, bears His image. From beginning to end, we are precious in the Creator’s sight. And He has made this clear. As Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop noted in their classic work, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?:
If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened. We can see this in many of the major issues being debated in our society today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the increase of child abuse and violence of all kinds, pornography (and its particular kinds of violence as evidenced in sadomasochism), the routine torture of political prisoners in many parts of the world, the crime explosion, and the random violence which surrounds us.
So the first thing has to do with the life issue. But the second has to do with our relational struggles. How do we see the person that has insulted, betrayed, or just plain irritated us? What would be the Psalm 139 implications for repentance, confession, and forgiveness? Surely, we have to begin at the beginning, with the inherent worth of the other person. C. S. Lewis put it this way in The Weight of Glory:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
So, beyond the life issue, Psalm 139 has repercussions for our relational struggles. We cannot just dismiss people. We cannot denigrate them. No matter who they are or what they have done.
But there’s one more category and that has to do with our self understanding. What if I believed that the words of Psalm 139 were true of how God sees…me? If I keep reading past vv.13-14, I see things about my very frame being made and fashioned, intricately woven and crafted. My days have been planned and written, formed and settled.
I was reminded of this while listening to Ellie Holcomb’s new CD, Red Sea Road, and the “Wonderfully Made” track:
What if I saw me the way that you see me
What if I believed it was true
What if I traded this shame and self-hatred
For a chance at believing you
There is wonder to be had not just as we look out upon the human race, not just at one another, but as we look into the mirror.
So, what if you and I saw things the way God does?