One of the major problems in the spiritual life is our attachment to our own self-image—either positively or negatively created. We confuse this idea of ourselves with who we actually are in God. Our ideas about things are not the things in themselves. Concepts of themselves are not immediate contact with reality. Deep religion is deep contact with full reality, and Jesus seems to be saying that full reality is nothing to be afraid of—in fact, quite the contrary.
Who we are, and forever will be, in God, is the only real, enduring, and solid foundation for our identity. God always sees his son, Jesus, in me, and cannot not love him (see John 17:22-23). What the Gospel promises us is that we are objectively and inherently children of God (see 1 John 3:2). This is full reality.
It is not a moral worthiness that we attain; it is ontological, metaphysical, and substantial worthiness, and we have it from the beginning, our own private “immaculate conception,” as it were. When this given God image becomes our self-image, we are home free, and the Gospel is just about the best good news that we can hope for!