“God doesn’t love things because they are beautiful, things are beautiful because God loves them” 

I wish I could remember where I read that one so I could give credit to someone with amazing insight. I mean -it’s beautiful! It says it all. It puts the focus back on God and not on some silly notion that we have to be something, or become something to be loved by God. It’s the old, “Just as I am…” concept. Remember that one? We used to sing it in Sunday School when I was growing up. “Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve…” There is nothing in the entire song that says I have to be anything. I simply need to show up “just as I am”.

The problem is, do we really believe it? Do we fully appreciate that no matter who we are, no matter what we have done, no matter who tells us otherwise – God loves us? And, it’s not all about me or you or what anybody defines as the formula to gain God’s love. We just need to know that we are loved by God.

Now, peeling the whole quote apart it’s possible to get caught up in the word beautiful. Unfortunately, our culture seems to put a heavy focus on the right age, looks, clothing, make-up and hair as we figure out this ‘beauty’ thing. Do you remember the 1999’s song “Always wear sunscreen…”? The lyrics were originally written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a commencement speech she would like to give someday…that is, if she were ever asked to give a commencement speech. (If I were to meet her, I would, without a doubt, like Mary Schmich very much.) It’s a great list of advice that includes, “do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.” There must be more to this beauty-thing than the lotions and potions of the cosmetic and fashion industry.

The dictionary will support our pervasive cultural idea to a point, but it impresses us with a meaning deeper than appearance. It defines beauty as, “pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically; of a very high standard; excellent.” What could be a higher standard or more excellent than what God created us to be? Flowers and butterflies are beautiful and they aspire to be nothing more than what they are. What if we were so bold as to believe it’s enough for us, too?  It’s not about becoming something so God will notice us.  “Just as I am…”

That said, let’s go back to part 2 – “things are beautiful because God loves them.” In all reality, that packs it’s own punch. It’s foolish to think we can blissfully and naively blunder through life doing whatever we choose to do because, after all, God loves us and therefore anything and everything we do is, well…beautiful. When we fully embrace that love, like grab onto the idea that this perfect entity which epitomizes all that is good looks at our chaotic, broken lives and loves us…loves us in spite of everything we have messed up, botched, ignored, and ruined; loves us when we have morning breath, wrinkles, thinning hair and warts; loves us when we berate others who aren’t like us; loves us no matter what…well, it can be a bit overwhelming. How do we know we are loved? In Romans 38-39 the Apostle Paul assures us that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from God’s love. “All of creation” covers a lot of territory!

The thing is, if we listen to God’s beaconing call to us and we come “Just as I am…”; when we truly believe we are loved just as we are, we are changed. The gratitude goes so deep that it envelops our entire being and we become beautiful as we transition into all that God created us to be.

Now, excuse me for a moment while I take some magazines to the recycling bin.