In at least a couple of the stage versions of The Phantom of the Opera, Christina (the love interest and heroine) convinces Erik (the disfigured "Phantom") to unmask himself. She believes that her love for him is so great that no marring of his countenance could possibly unsettle her. Persuaded by her urgent pleading and deeply aching for the acceptance that he has not known since his mother died when he was a child, he removes the mask. Christina gets one look and runs away, shrieking in horror.
At that point, we believe that we can understand Erik’s pain. It is no small thing to believe that we are ugly beyond redemption, beyond acceptance, even beyond tolerance.
Nor is it a small thing to realize that God saw us as we were before we fashioned the masks that we wear in front of others. He saw the lust, the guile, the sin, the corruption, the betrayals, the deceit, the arrogance, the pride. He saw every evil thing that was inside us and would ever be a part of us. He saw the filth of our sin-drenched souls and yet, he loved us. Loved us not for our potential, for our capacity for change, for the spark of immortality within us. He loved us as we were.
And came to us in love, offering salvation, cleansing, redemption. As the scripture says, "While we were yet in sin, Christ died for us." And, as the scripture also says, how much more love does he yet show for us now that we are no longer enemies but children.
Christina’s love for Erik brings her back to him, finally able to see past the disfigured flesh. Christ never had to turn away, never flinched, never gasped. He looked our sin full in the face and embraced us.