I have been reading What Is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert, and while devouring chapter four on faith and repentance, by mind was spinning with contemplative thoughts. Gilbert says, "We are relying on [Jesus] to secure for us a righteous verdict from God the Judge, rather than a guilty one." But it wasn't until this next statement that really had me reflective. "When we put our faith in Jesus, we are relying on him to stand as our substitute before God, in both his perfect life and his penalty-paying death for us on the cross. In other words, we are trusting that God will substitute Jesus' record for ours, and therefore declare us to be righteous (Romans 3:22)."
So here was my stream of conscious thoughts...If Christ died for me, in my place for the death and punishment I deserved, so that I might be counted righteous and because of that substitutionary death, I am raised to new life with Christ and resultantly am a beneficiary of his righteousness, then when God the Father looks at me He sees the righteousness of His Son. Does this mean that God only sees Christ when He looks at me? I know that 2 Corinthians says that the old is gone and the new has come. So my old self, my sinful self, my flesh is in tension or wages war with my new self, the workings of the Holy Spirit within me. But there is fruit. The Spirit is producing fruit in my life. Is this what God sees when He looks at me? The fruit produced by the Spirit and the righteousness gained by Christ's substitutionary atonement? Does God delight in me, Dowd, or in me as an image bearer of Christ?
There are great theologians far wiser than I am who very well might know the biblical answer to my questions, but the question itself is what is revealing, not the answer. Whatever the answer is, it's not the answer that's the issue. It's what's at the heart for me of my question. While I was digesting the words of Greg Gilbert the Spirit graciously revealed to me the other night that I want to believe that I am lovable, on my own, separate from anything Christ did for me. I want to believe that God loves me as me and not because of the work of Jesus on the cross. At the root of my questions and in the very depths of my heart is pride. Pride. The root of all sins. It permeates all the way to my core. It is ugly and so very alive. Pride. It was there in the garden when Adam and Eve thought it better to be their own gods and it is here in my kitchen too, the idolization of self.