Profile PictureMUSTARD SEED DISCIPLESHIP by McKay Caston

Gospel Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder: What if This is Really True?

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My dog is a mutt with scraggly beige fur and a cowlick on her face. Her name is Buttercup. Butter for short.

We think she is a mix between a chihuahua and some kind of terrier. Unless she is well groomed (which is rarely), folks are not enamored with her exceptional breeding qualities.

My son found her hiding under a car in our cul-de-sac after my youngest's 8th birthday party in January 2012. It was cold and raining. Butter was wet and shivering.

I already had two dogs and didn't want another. So, we tried to give her away. After two failed attempts at adoptive families, a family from Gainesville said "yes" and drove to our house to pick her up.

But when they pulled into our driveway, I looked at Butter and couldn't do it. I loved that 10-pound ball of scraggled fur more than I could have imagined. In my eyes, she was the most adorable, most precious dog in the world.

Walking outside to greet the family who'd come for Butter, I apologized for the inconvenience when informing them I couldn't give her away.

I suppose the adage is true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

However, that isn't just an adage. It is the message of the gospel.

Through the lens of my affection for Butter, she is beautiful. My son calls her "the beautifulest." Others may not see her that way, but we do. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

How can God look upon an unholy, morally corrupted human and see not the ugliness of sin but the beauty of holiness? How can his eyes see what we do not see?

Paul tells us in Romand 5:1-2a, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (NIV84).

To be justified is to be declared righteous before the law. To be righteous is to be holy, pure, blameless, and morally perfect. To be righteous is to be beautiful in the eyes of God—as righteous as Jesus himself.

This declaration is one of identity and status, not necessarily what you or I will see after a 24-hour surveillance of my life.

No, this righteousness is what God the Father sees when he beholds one who has "gained access into this grace" because of what Jesus has done for them.

What has Jesus done? He lived for the sinner, obeying the law, fulfilling every requirement of righteousness. He also died for the sinner, enduring the penalty the law required for moral treason against the Creator King, who, motivated by love, pays the sin debt for sinful traitors.

Just like I do not behold Butter as a mutt (which she is) but as a special companion whom I love dearly, God does not behold his own as morally corrupted sinners but as perfectly righteous, dearly loved sons and daughters.

How I behold Butter defines her. She could never be anything but beautiful, precious, and beloved in my eyes. Even if she gets into the garbage and makes a mess in the kitchen. My view of the mess is tempered by my affection for her. She does still possess a dog nature after all.

How God beholds me defines me.

I can never be anything but beautiful, precious, and beloved in his eyes. It may be hard to believe in the moment, but his view of my own messes is tempered by his affection for me. Sadly, I do still possess a sin nature after all.

But even that will be eradicated. One day.

Until then, I can live as a spiritual mutt with hope and confidence that my Father will not give me away, because gospel beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.

I wonder what would happen if we really believed that to be true. Right now. Moment by moment.

Some might say it would lead to a license to sin? The problem with that position is that we already accumulate more sin debt every day than we could possibly imagine. A license to sin wouldn't add that much more to the ledger.

We might feel bad about some of the more socially grievous or socially unacceptable sins, but if we're honest, what we need is not a license to sin but a license of gospel acceptance—a license to say, "No matter what, I'm fully forgiven, perfectly accepted, and dearly loved."

Because of God's heart expressed in the cross, that is who I am.

In my opinion, that kind of gospel license to affirm the cross would be a far greater influence for actual holiness than residual guilt, which (again, if we're honest) is more akin to worldly sorry than true repentance.

The true motivator for a changed life is the grace, mercy, and love of God in Jesus because as we abide in that gospel reality, we are filled with the Spirit and begin to manifest his fruit.

So, let's believe the promises of Romans 5:1-2. Let's sit and savor the wonder of God's love for us in Jesus. And let's be transformed by the gospel that proclaims, "Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder!"

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