Does God see us and love us or does he instead see only Christ?
It is often preached that God looks not to our sins, but to the merits of Christ in whom he is well pleased. Or, that when God looks at those in Christ, he sees not them, but Christ.
This might suggest that the love of God is not truly toward man, but toward himself. And if this is what is meant by such preaching than we have strayed far from He who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son (John 3:16).
Let us consider how to understand this preaching by means of a few questions:
What is man?
Man is God’s creature created out of his good pleasure. God is pleased in his creation as such.
What is a sinner?
A sinner is the deformity of God’s creation
What is Christ?
Christ is God; Christ is also the very pattern by which God first created man and all things; He is perfect man and God
Therefore, what is it to be hid in Christ?
It is to be hid within the very pattern of creation. It is not to be merely screened and unseen by God (accept insofar as we are sinners); it is to be restored as very creature.
To be in Christ is to be in him who is truly man, perfectly man. And we are men.
Therefore to be in him is to be not only truly seen, but to be truly a creature of the Creator who has now redeemed his creation.
To be hid in Christ is nothing less than to be a new creation.
Therefore, when God sees Christ, he does not see Christ rather than us (again except in regard to sin), but in Christ God sees the creature in its perfection, a new perfection to which we have been united–not as something alien to creaturehood, but as elevating it in some unprecedented manner.