I'll admit it. I married up. If you meet my wife, I can easily see you asking "What did she see in him?" Have you ever wondered that about a couple? What do they see in each other?
That's just it. They see each other. They see past all the weaknesses of their Valentines because they see something in them that no one else sees.
Now I want you to think about your relationship with God. There's one that would make just about anyone scratch their heads. What does a perfect, holy God see in your imperfect, sinful self? And others would ask why you'd want anything to do with a holy God who demands perfection. His power and his purity should scare us away.
You see the problem is that there is a veil that blocks all too many people from seeing who God is, and seeing how he looks at us. In 2 Corinthians 3:12 - 4:6, Paul writes about that veil of the law that skews so many people's view of God. 3:15 says, "Even to this day when Moses (the Bible) is read, a veil covers their hearts."
People think of God and religion, and all they think of is the rules, what God demands, what we have to do. Paul says that's missing the picture entirely. And I'm sure you've done it too. If you've ever boiled down your view of God and church to "What do I have to do?" or when you look at your offerings or your service as burdens, as a "have to" - you're veiling who God is, and making it so easy to forget why you loved God in the first place. The love has to fail then because you are not seeing God.
Now read verse 16: "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away... where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
This Sunday in the church year is Transfiguration Sunday, when we remember how Jesus gave his disciples a glimpse of his glory as his face shone like the sun and the Father's voice boomed from heaven who this Jesus was. God is showing us his heart. He's removing the veil. The Bible says, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9).
This Sunday was also Valentine's Day. Think about this: Unless you see Jesus, you'll never understand true love - because all love comes from God. If you have a "Valentine" - think about why you love that person. Now tell me if you don't have every reason to love your God more.
• Do you love because of the gifts he gives? What greater gift could be given than God giving his only begotten Son?
• Do you love because of what he's willing to do for you? Jesus took more than a few punches defending you. He stretched out his hands and sacrificed his life because he thought you were worth it.
• Do you love because he lets you unload on him? Jesus took all your sins, all your guilt, all your sorrow, and he says, "Cast all your anxiety" on there too.
• Or do you love because of his success? Thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are more than conquerors because of his victory over death and the devil and the grave. Now God looks at us and sees Jesus' perfection.
The veil is removed. We can see God's love. God can see us in Christ. And now, Paul writes, we get to show others the same thing. Look at verse 18: "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords' glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory."
May God bless us to reflect his glory and his love more and more.
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.