Rian Johnson's 2012 sci-fi actioner Looper has a plot far too detailed to summarize here. It's a very good movie; you should see it. In fact, what you need to know to understand the clip below is complicated enough. The young boy in the truck is a powerful telekinetic who will grow up (very mild spoilers!) to be a brutal gangster. Bruce Willis (the older guy) has come back in time to kill him, Terminator-style. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the younger guy) and the boy's mother are convinced that future is not yet set. Here is a part of the climactic scene:
The boy is bad news. We've seen him, earlier in the film, destroy a man with nothing more than his mind. Not only is he bad news, he's bad news with a ton of power. There's only one thing with more power than the evil resident in this boy: his mother's words, "It's okay. I love you."
Christians have always known the power of "I love you" to break down barriers and to intervene between us and judgment, whether it comes from Bruce Willis or from God. But what about the "it's okay" part? Many Christians hold to the "God loves you just the way you are" adage and would interpret the mother's words in this light: "You're ok. Therefore, I love you." They assume that God thinks the same way: "You're okay just the way you are. Therefore, I love you."
But we misunderstand.
God's word to us is the same as that of the boy's mother: "It's okay. I love you." But it is most decidedly not "You're okay. Therefore, I love you." God's word to us is "You're okay because I love you." We are the little boy: we are bad news, and we think we have lots of power. We're not okay. Not at all. God doesn't love us just the way we are. He shows his love for us in that "while were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
It is this kind of love that can cut through the violence and anger of our lives. When we believe that we're loved "just the way we are," the sin remains. Only the knife's edge of "You're okay...but only because I love you" can perform the necessary surgery on our hearts. Christ comes for the undeserving, for the sinner, for the far from okay. In his saving work, though, he becomes God's love for us, creating us anew, and making us so much more than okay.