Imagine with me a moment.  A young man and a young woman meet, fall in love, and are married.  Let’s call them Jack and Jeannie.  They love each other – deeply.  One evening Jack comes home from work and tells Jeannie that they have been invited to a dinner with some of his colleagues, including his boss.  She is excited and spends extra time getting ready, wanting to make a good impression.  And she does.  She looks lovely, not overly made up, dressed beautifully and tastefully.  And then her husband introduces her.

She smiles, greets everyone, and then says, “I didn’t always look like this.  I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and lived a life of sin and perversion.  I’m so thankful that he loved me enough to help me clean up my life, and that wasn’t easy.  Jack has been through a lot to help me.  I can never forget who I really am, where I came from, and all he’s done for me.”  She introduces herself as who she was, not who she is now.

Everyone is quiet, embarrassed for her, and they really don’t know how to react.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.”  That’s not how Jesus sees us.  Yes, we were sinners, but because of His grace we are not only forgiven, we are a new creation, created in Christ Jesus.  Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” (NLT) Let’s read that again.  “The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  We aren’t who we were.  That person died with Jesus on the cross.  We are an entirely new creation – a human being indwelt by the very Spirit of God.  If we introduce ourselves as a “sinner,” we are wrong.  We were a sinner, but we’ve been saved and made brand-new by grace. We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we sin, but, as we behold Him, we are being transformed into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

Please understand.  I’m not saying we should not give our testimony as to what Jesus has done for us, but it should be always be from the perspective of who we are in Christ now – and timing is everything.

Now, let’s turn this story around.  Suppose everything is the same – up until Jack introduces his wife.  He says, “Good evening, everyone.  I’d like to introduce you to my wife, Jeannie.  Doesn’t she look beautiful?  Oh, but you should have seen her a couple of years ago.  Very rough around the edges.  Sleeping around. Potty mouth. Smoking and drinking.  The whole shebang! But I fell in love with her anyway because I saw her potential.  I knew I could clean her up.  And I was right!”

Can you imagine how that made her feel?  Humiliated.  Embarrassed.  Holding back the tears, she couldn’t wait to leave, to hide.

Many believers think that is how Jesus looks at His bride – us – the church.  The Song of Solomon tells a story of the love between Solomon and a Shulamite woman, but it is also the story of the love between Jesus and His bride, the church – us!

In the first chapter, the Shulamite woman begins by telling how she is drawn to the love of the Shepherd-King.  I’ll be quoting from The Passion Translation. 

Let him smother me with kisses—his Spirit-kiss divine.
So kind are your caresses
I drink them in like the sweetest wine!

Your presence releases a fragrance so pleasing—
over and over poured out.
For your lovely name is “Flowing Oil.”
No wonder the brides-to-be adore you.

Draw me into your heart.
We will run away together into the king’s cloud-filled chamber.

Just a few verses later, she belittles herself.

Don’t stare in scorn because of my dark and sinful ways.
My angry brothers quarreled with me
and appointed me guardian of their ministry vineyards,
yet I’ve not tended my vineyard within.

She sees herself as ugly, plain and unworthy for the King’s affection.  How does her lover, the Shepherd-King respond?  Does he rebuke her? No, but he tells her how he sees her.

The shepherd-king answers:

My dearest one,
let me tell you how I see you—
you are so thrilling to me.
To gaze upon you is like looking
at one of Pharaoh’s finest horses—
a strong, regal steed pulling his royal chariot.
Your tender cheeks are beautiful—
your earrings and gem-laden necklaces
set them ablaze.
We will enhance your beauty,
with golden ornaments studded with silver.

She is beautiful to him, and her beauty will be enhanced – made even more exquisite – with jewelry!  Wow!

And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor
(I Peter 5:4 NLT Emphasis mine)

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8 Emphasis mine)

Are you feeling unloved?  You know God loves you – in your head.  But really, deep in your soul, do you really know how much you are loved by God?  Much of the imagery in Song of Solomon refers to the love between a man and a woman.  Remember that scripture tells us that the man and woman become “one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24) Scripture also tells us that we have been placed “in Christ.”

John 14:20 speaks to our union with Christ.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

You can’t get any closer than that!  You can’t be loved any more than that either.

But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him. (2 Corinthians 3:18 TLB)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)

Let us draw closer to Him, resting in how He sees us, how He cherishes us.  And others will long to draw closer too.

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One thought on “Cherished

  1. As a child – I always assumed the change was immediate…it’s not.
    Not for me anyway – it is a process of processing the same circumstances in a different way and most importantly…IT TAKES TIMES.

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