A common phrase we hear today is “God loves you exactly as you are.”
This statement is both 100 percent correct, yet so often used in 100 percent the wrong way.
On one hand, this statement is absolutely true. God absolutely loves you exactly the way you are right now. He knew you and the full extent of your sin before Jesus went to the cross for you. He demonstrated his love for you in that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8).
But on the other hand, it seems people often use this phrase as justification for why they think they then never have to confess or repent of any sin in their lives. The logic being, “If God loves me exactly as I am now, then why do I need to change anything about myself?” They think they can come to Christ and just go on living the exact same way they’ve always lived. No change needed.
But God’s love and grace to us aren’t meant as justification for us to never change. God’s love and grace are meant to empower the change God calls us to. They’re meant to empower us to reject what doesn’t please God and trust in his new way of life for us.
Christ Sets Us On A Path Of Complete Healing
God loves you far, far more than to just leave you as you are today. As Paul asks in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” To think that Christ died to set us free from sin and death, but then that we should just stay as we are within the grip of sin and death afterwards makes no sense.
That would be like if you were in a horrible car accident and the police, first responders, paramedics, and fire department arrived and got you out of your mangled, wrecked car. But then after getting you out of the car, they just leave you there at the scene of the crash, laying on the side of the road. “Ok, we got you out of the wreck,” they say, “so now we’ll just leave you here.”
We know that’s not what emergency response professionals do. They not only get you out of the wreck, they also get you to the hospital where the doctors, nurses, and staff help set you on a path toward healing.
And so it is with Christ. Jesus not only gets us out of the crash, the wreck that is our lives, he then takes us from the scene of the crash and sets us on a path of complete healing of our mind, our wills, our motivations, our desires, and our outward behaviors. And that lifelong path of healing (called sanctification) involves us being changed continually into the image of Jesus.
Real love, Christ’s love, changes us. It doesn’t leave us as we are.
God Wants His Best For You
God wants his best for you, which is to be formed into the image of his Son Jesus, not to leave you living the same old way of life as you were living before you came to know Christ. This idea that God loves you exactly as you are so therefore there’s no need to change anything about yourself is a gross distortion of what the Bible says and what Jesus calls us to.
Yes, he loves you as you are. But in no way is his plan and purpose for you to stay exactly as you are right now for the rest of your life. He is purposefully and continually working in us to make us more and more like Jesus every day. Our greatest good then is found in putting all our energy toward working in the same direction that God is working in our lives.