When Christ Sees Me
So it's common knowledge that I am music obsessed. I frequently like to listen to music with a postmodern filter. By this I mean, I absolutely love to let my mind wander while listening to lyrics and twist them to my own convoluted benefit. I take the "let the reader understand" approach to music even when I know it is outside the author's intent. Sometimes the twisting is minimal. Sometimes it is marginal. Today is in the very marginal category.
Last year I reviewed Sara Bareilles's What's Inside: Songs from Waitress. The album still finds itself in me regular rotation — I absolutely adore it. One of my favorite songs is "When He Sees Me." Its basis is the chaotic internal discussion of a woman prepping for an unplanned date. I say the song is chaotic because it moves about between the serious and flippant reasons that the female character is uncomfortable. The internal dialogue is both sincere and light. She does not "like guessing games." She worries if her date might "eat the cookie [Oreo] before the cream" or "be colorblind" because obviously "How untrustworthy is that?" — as a point of order, I am in fact colorblind and feel my safe space has been violated.
But in the midst of this funny little song, there are some serious tones. Ultimately, the reason the character is uncomfortable is her fear of rejection. She desires "someone who when he sees me wants to again." There isn't anything particularly wrong with that. But it gets deeper and more personal - in the second verse, the truth comes out. She is not afraid "He could be less than kind" (for who cares to be disliked by a brute?) but "even worse he could be very nice, have lovely eyes and make me laugh." The rejection of one who is categorically good is too much for her imagination to handle. And who can blame her? Despite this fear, she declares "still I can't help from hoping."
In the grips of my pathological insomnia, it struck me that rejection haunts all men. Rejection by the truly evil haunts few. But rejection by the truly good haunts everyone. This is one reason why we like to disparage those who do not agree with us. If we can make them "evil" in our own eyes then we can discard their opinion with less emotional pain. Sometimes we are unable to make them "evil." This general concept is especially true concerning God. The gospel message is quite clear in its proclamation of the radiance of God's work in Jesus Christ — nothing else deserves to be called "good." If Christians are faithful to this message then non-believers will encounter in peripheral, at least, the goodness of our God. The idea of God's rejection is terrifying. And the excuses start streaming from the non-believer on why they could never love a God who does x, y, or z. There is a fruitless attempt to make God's rejection a point of pride. And yet it is true, we as sinners have received the loudest eternal "no" possible. There is no escaping that God has rejected all of mankind in their sin. From this paradigm, the chorus rung true in my spirit,
What if when he sees me, what if he doesn't like it?
What if he runs the other way and I can't hide from it?
What happens then?
If when he knows me, he's only disappointed?
What if I give myself away, to only get it given back?
I couldn't live with that
Thankfully, the beauty of our gospel is that God does not only reject us. This God came down to the cross such that there no longer remains any condemnation (Rom 8:1). Through Christ, God has reconciled Himself to the world (2 Cor 5:18). The beauty of the cross is that it preaches one word — "yes" (2 Cor 1:19-20). We are not brought to love God because of His righteous rejection of our sin. We are brought to love God as He rejects our sin on His Son - it is this kindness of the Lord that brings repentance (Rom 2:4). The cross presents a savior, a lover, and a husband who is incapable of rejecting us.