God doesn't love you just the way you are (But He does love you)
I keep hearing Christians say that God loves them just the way they are, usually in the context of them explaining why it’s OK for them to do whatever they want. God seems to say something quite different, as the following quotes show (admittedly without much context, commentary, pause for thought, or caveats about how unlovingly and unwisely some of the passages have been used by some people):
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Proverbs 17:9)
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:14, 23-24)
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:18-20)
“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
Does this at all sound like the assessment of someone who thinks that you, just as you are, are OK?
What, then, is the love of God that Jesus has made known?
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
If you’re a Christian, God doesn’t love you just the way you are: He had to die because of the way you are. But because He loves you, He did that.
And because He loves you, He’s working with you to make you more like Jesus and less like you currently are. This is a process of change which will be completed when we pass from this life to the next:
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son...” (Romans 8:29)
“We shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51)
“Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
So for now we should be working to get closer to this wonderful destiny, rather than pleading to be accepted as we currently are. Look at how consistently this is taught in the New Testament:
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:14-19)
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:5-10)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practise homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practise every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)
That is infinitely better than being loved – and left – just as you are.