“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. – John 17:6 NASB
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; – John 17:20 NASB
It’s Christmas time, and our thoughts naturally turn to the giving and receiving of gifts. So to start our series of ruminations on the nature of gifts in relation to God, we are going to turn the tables a bit. We are going to look at how we, as the church, are the Father’s gift to the Son.
The Topic of Conversation of the Godhead
Here is an amazing thing! We might get caught on questions about election and predestination by John 17:6, since some people apparently belong to God and others belong to ‘the world’. More accurately, that everyone belonged to “the world”, but some were seized or perhaps stolen out of the world and became the possession of God the Father. That might be an interesting discussion, but I want to shelve it for now, and focus on something more important.
We are the hot topic of discussion between the members of the Godhead. We may think God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are busy planning the creation of the next universe or the resurrection of the wooly mammoth or who the next president should be, but when God the Son was saying His last prayer on earth before His untimely death, the Church, the gathering of believers, was the topic of discussion. Some may find this fact daunting and even frightening, but there is nothing but respect and compassion and kindness in their hearts toward us.
What are They Saying about Us?
So what is it they are talking about? What could they possibly have to say about us? There is a lot to reflect on in this rich passage, but there is one thing here that stands out. From God’s perspective, we are not a burden or a responsibility or a mercy sinkhole. We are considered to be a gift: “they were Yours and You gave them to Me.” Between them, we are considered to be the Father’s gift to His beloved Son. We are talking about the creator of the universe here – God knows how to be lavish. And somehow, we as the church are the most lavish thing God could dream up. Forget wondering how it happened that God the Father came into possession of us without us quite knowing or understanding it – from God’s perspective, that’s the shape of things. We were His, and He gave us as a free gift to God the Son. We are considered to be the most coveted and beautiful gift from the heart of God the Father to His beloved Son, above all else. And God the Son is grateful for us!
The Essence of the Christian Walk
The essence of the Christian walk is to begin to see yourself from the perspective of God, instead of seeing yourself from the perspective of the world or even the perspective of yourself. You are the Father’s gift to His beloved Son. The world constantly judges us, and does not consider us to be a gift but rather a burden. If you happen to cross the path of a major celebrity, and you ask for their autograph, do you think they will view you with gratitude or as a burden and a PR necessity at best? At your work, if you are not working hard to profit the company somehow, do you not think you will be viewed as a burden? We ourselves know our own worst secrets, and our own conscience can press us down so hard we can hardly breathe!
But none of these things ultimately define us as believers. From the perspective of God, here is what defines you: you are a beautiful and wondrous gift, His greatest and most valuable possession given to His most beloved Son. You are the front and center bride at the cosmos’s biggest celebrity wedding. All the angels and the prophets and the cherubim want to see (1 Peter 1:10-12). The heavenly tabloids are all abuzz!
God’s Perspective of You
Yes, it’s true: from God’s perspective, you are a wondrous and beautiful gift from the heart of God the Father to the delighted heart of God the Son, and He is entirely grateful and even excited about you! He is even jealous over you – He is guarded concerning us and keeps us safe and hidden and dear (John 17:12). It is not for you to understand all the ins and outs and details of how it could be that you and not someone else came to be part of this gift – you may never understand this mystery. It doesn’t matter. The persons of the Godhead have that figured out. What you can be certain of is this: you are of vast and even cosmic importance to the scheme and structure of the universe. You, as a believer, are God’s fondest possession, given with great and grand generosity from the heart of the Father to a grateful and excited Son. If you understand that, that you are not loved by God as a burden and responsibility, but as an excited receiver of a great gift, it changes the way you walk. It changes the way you talk. It changes the way you sin. It changes everything. If you have come to know and have believed the love which God has for you (1 John 4:16), it changes you in a way that your own determination to keep under the law could never do.
So rejoice! You are the Father’s gift to His beloved Son! That is what is most true of you. Walk in faith that you are of a devastating beauty in the eyes of God! This is what is most true of you.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2 NASB
9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:9 NASB
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. – Revelation 22:17 NASB