by Troy Chapman
One way to appreciate anything more fully is to see it through God’s eyes. This is true of ourselves as well. The trouble is we’ve been told a lot of stuff about God that isn’t true. One of the most destructive of these untruths is that God is an angry, authoritarian perfectionist. This God sees our every flaw and sin. Not only does he see but he shakes his finger, hardens his heart against us and loves us less every time we mess up. He sees every imperfection and keeps an eternal record of it to condemn us with later. This isn’t only untrue, it’s 180 degrees from the truth and a slander of God.
The truth is, God loves you. I know, that’s a cliché. But stop for a minute and separate this fact from all the religious junk that’s been attached to it. God loves you. He adores you. The scripture tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs. If God is a police officer, as many would like us to think, then we’re talking about a kind and gentle officer who always gives us a break, not the kind that delights in catching us wrong and dragging us to jail.
God sees more good in you than you can even see in yourself. Human beings find it difficult to even imagine the kind of love I’m talking about here. This will shock some people, but I’m going to say it anyway: God worships the ground you walk on.
Imagine this: God, bowing before you in love as if you were lord and God your servant. Blasphemy? Read the beginning of John 13, where the story is told of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Simon Peter reacted to this as most of us do when God bows before us. We say, “No! No way, get up from there. You can’t wash my feet.” But Jesus insists, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Not because the disciples were dirty and had to be cleansed before Jesus could accept them. He’d been walking all over the Holy Land with them, dirty feet and all. No, it was because the only thing that could separate them (and us) from the love of God is a refusal to accept that love.
To see ourselves through God’s eyes is to see ourselves as most of us never have in our lives. There’s so much fear in our world and many are afraid even of what I’m saying here. We believe thinking this highly of ourselves will lead to arrogance and make us blind to our own faults, our own evil. So we project our fears onto God and recreate God in our own image as an angry tyrant. But arrogance and evil don’t come from love or from seeing ourselves through the eyes of love as beautiful. No, arrogance and evil come from hiding ourselves from that kind of love, from refusing to accept or believe in it. Love is a light and it calls us into itself. We don’t need to be afraid of seeing ourselves as God sees us, and we don’t need to lie or believe the lies told about how God truly sees us.
We need more than anything else on earth to embrace this love, this truth about God and about ourselves. When we do we will begin to bow before one another as Jesus suggested after he washed the disciples' feet: “I set an example and you should do for each other what I have done for you.”
When we see who we truly are — who God thinks we are — we don’t become arrogant or egocentric. We become feet-washers. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Reject the lies you’ve been told about God. Understand that the creator of the universe loves you unconditionally; nothing you do, think, say or feel can reduce that love by so much as a microgram. Nothing. It’s there and it will be there for eternity. It kisses the ground behind you; it dances with joy in front of you; it rushes in between your head and your pillow as you lay down at night and adores you when you wake up in the morning. It is ever before you — embarrassingly so — warm, wet rag and dry towel in hand, asking “May I wash your feet, my beloved?”
To say yes is to have the universe turned upside down and to have everything we believe about ourselves broken up like spiritual congestion so suddenly we can breathe again — deeply, and all the way down in our belly, instead of those short, shallow breaths we’ve come to accept as normal. Just thinking about it is like looking over a cliff and feeling your stomach flip. Actually saying yes is like jumping off that cliff with your arms flung wide and learning you were made to fly.
So, how do you answer the God who wants to wash your feet? Do you have the faith to accept this God’s judgment of you as incomprehensibly beautiful?
Painting by Troy Chapman