Precious in God’s Sight
January 26, 2023
by Amy Givler, MD
When I was a child—maybe six, maybe seven—I went through a phase of suspecting the entire world existed as a massive play with one star—me. That is, I was the main actor and the rest of humanity played supporting roles. That is, the universe revolved around me. That is, I was all ego.
Someone didn’t recognize me or snubbed me? It must be an act, because the whole world, after all, was all about me. This developmental phase—if that is what it was—did not last long. Thank. Goodness. For. That. With time, I began to accept what was obviously evident in the world around me—that other people had their own needs and motives, and that they most certainly were not always thinking about me.
Throughout the rest of my childhood, I had brief flashes of doubt that reality was, indeed, real. What if?… What if this whole thing really is all about me? But those moments didn’t last long.
And then I watched 1998’s The Truman Show. For the protagonist Truman, his entire reality, in actuality, was all about him. Since birth, his life, unbeknownst to him, was a massive reality television show. According to Wikipedia, “The Truman Show has been analyzed as an exploration of simulated reality, existentialism, surveillance, religion, metaphilosophy, privacy, and reality television,” but all I could think of, watching it, was my 6-year-old self.
Truman truly was Human Number One, at least as far as his artificial world was concerned, yet when he began to discover that fact, he found it stifling—so stifling that he was eventually willing to die rather than remain on display.
What was I yearning for as a massively self-focused 6-year-old? To be known, to be seen, to be valued, to receive a “stamp of approval” for being me. Surely, if I was Human Number One, the whole world would know me and that would satisfy my ego, my sense of self-worth. Yet here is the cautionary tale: When Truman had that amount of fame, he felt stifled, not fulfilled.
Timothy Keller writes about something similar in his gem of a book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. This is a short little book I cannot recommend highly enough. Read it, re-read it and then read it again. Keller recounts an interview Madonna had with Vogue magazine, describing her life-long struggle: “My drive in life comes from a fear of being mediocre. That is always pushing me. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being but then I feel I am still mediocre and uninteresting unless I do something else. Because even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody.” And then Keller comments, “I will tell you one thing: Madonna knows herself better than most of us know ourselves…She is ahead of most of us. That is the normal state of the human self.”
What both the fictional Truman and the real-life Madonna learned is that being the center of attention and adulation isn’t satisfying. Humans can’t give them the “verdict” that they are good people, that they are important, that their lives have value.
Only in a relationship with Jesus Christ, Keller writes, are we freed from having to “perform” in order to get the “verdict” of perfect love and acceptance. When we trust in Jesus, we are fully loved and fully valued because, as Keller says, “God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, ‘You are my Son, Whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
God is not a far-off puppet master, as was Cristof, who created and produced the show within the movie, The Truman Show. No, God wanted a genuine and mutual relationship with us, so much so that He sent His son Jesus to become one of us, to die on the cross, to rescue us from our sins. One of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, ESV). Through Him we can we have a relationship with the God who created the universe.
In another book, Timothy Keller has written, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
God does not interact with us as a remote observer. He’s no distant Cristof. Rather, He is deeply involved in our lives, passionately and sacrificially loving us. God is like the father in Jesus’ story about the prodigal son. The son had insulted and completely rejected his father. Yet how did his father respond? He yearned for a restoration of the relationship. He was standing outside, day after day, on high alert for the return of his son. When the father saw the bedraggled son a long way off, he broke into an undignified run. He just couldn’t wait to be reunited with his beloved son.
That’s who God is. He puts a ring on my finger. He kills the fatted calf. He throws me a party. I am valued. I am cherished. I am loved. God my Father puts His stamp of approval on me, but not because the world revolves around me. It’s all because of Christ and what He has done. Because of my relationship with Him, that which I deeply longed for as a 6-year-old has been fulfilled beyond my wildest hopes. I am precious in God’s sight.
Without Jesus life is meaningless
Wonderful, thanks for sharing.