I was recently thwarted by my four-year-old son.
He is the last of five kids, the only one not yet in school. Our days include Star Wars light saber battles, picnics on the deck, running errands, work at church, walks, and a decent amount of snuggling. We frequently engage in outdoing one another in an ever escalating battle of verbal adorations. He will tell me he likes my outfit, I will tell him I like his face. He will say you look beautiful to me. We will argue, “You are mine.” “No, you are mine.” Then we initiate our love exchange:
I love you.
I love you more.
I love you infinity.
I love you infinity and beyond (Buzz Lightyear anyone?)
That was our ultimate in complimentary affection. He had recently, however, pulled a Scwartz-slight-breach-of-etiquette, (à la A Christmas Story battle at the light pole in the snow) by always going straight to “I love you infinity and beyond” without the proper ascending exchange.
I was content knowing we had reached the pinnacle and would, from here on out, just begin there— “I love you infinity and beyond.”
Then the thwarting.
“Do you know why you are beautiful to me?
Because I love you.”
I laughed out loud at his jumbling of words that seemed to end with a nonsensical, though heartfelt, compliment. So many times we’ve rattled the reasons for loving one another. My husband and I have carried on this way for years. I trip or spill or demonstrate my extraordinary level of clumsiness and he will tell me that’s why he loves me, another reason he married me.
But as I turn over my son’s statement in my mind, I am suddenly enamored. He’s inadvertently come to a much deeper truth. He has exposed the upside down economy of the Kingdom of God. It is the great comfort in all of life. Ultimately I am not loved because of my physical appearance, because of any quality rooted in me. I am loved, therefore I have beauty. I become beautiful because of the love given me.
In and of myself, I am the un-loveliest of all creatures. Appalling really. The wickedness that exists within this heart, the walls of this mind would take your breath away.
I cry out for deliverance, much like, Paul “wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The answer without doubt is our dear Savior has delivered us. Yet the mind blowing, nonsensical, slight breach of etiquette is here as well. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1: 4-5
That’s why we are beautiful to Him.
When we are His, there is no escaping this reality.
All the world is turned upside down. The world’s economy tells us, if you work hard you will justify your existence. If you are beautiful, you will receive love. If you perform, you have earned respect. If you have thousands of followers, you have value.
God’s economy is understood as the mind is renewed. Distorted rationale is logical without the reformation of the mind. As we fight to renew our minds, we learn to rest in the truth. We learn where we belong, where value lies. Not in the achieved, it is in the received.
“But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.”
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:1, 25
He justifies us, then we find worth.
He loves us, then we become beautiful.
He frees us, we are freed up to live His design.
We follow One, He gives us value.