What do you bring to Jesus?

widow's miteThe first recorded gifts to the incarnate Word were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Bible treats the wise men well for these gifts, because they were gifts of worship.

(They certainly weren’t practical gifts. What can a baby do with gold? I’ve had a kid, and he would play for hours with an empty paper towel roll. If we were going out to dinner and wished not to be lynched by fellow diners, we made sure we had a set of car keys or a teething ring to keep him happy. Myrrh would not have bought us enough silence to order drinks.)

The wise men’s gifts were not good gifts because Jesus needed them, but because they reflected a right view of who Jesus is.

Now look at what other people in the Bible brought to God:

  • The woman at the well brought loneliness, disgrace, and a checkered past. She was saved. (John 4)
  • A widow brought two coins and a ton of trust. She was praised. (Mark 12)
  • Mary brought tears and perfume. She was loved. (Luke 7)
  • Moses brought a speech impediment and a stick. He led his people out of Egypt. (Exodus)

It isn’t that these people had a lot to offer. What could we possibly have that God needs? The important thing is that these people brought everything they had and all that they were. And Jesus demands no less than all: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

Compare that to the rich young ruler, who walked away sad. (Mark 10) He would have been happy to give Christ his leftovers, but not his all. The thought of giving God ownership of his wealth was enough to turn him away.

So what do you bring to Jesus? It’s ok if it isn’t much, so long as it’s everything.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8).

Parenthood teaches us about God’s love

00_159_185_PS1Sometimes it’s hard to believe God could ever love us.

He knows what lies behind the mask. He knows all the secret thoughts and motives. All the times I’ve failed him, denied him, put others before him, or thought terrible things about his children.

He knows it all, and the Bible says he loves me nonetheless. It’s hard to believe.

And sometimes things happen that we think shouldn’t happen. When we are in pain, we might think that if God loved us, he would fix it. When we are in pain, and we focus only on the hurt, it’s hard to believe in God’s love.

But God reveals himself to us as a Father. A father who loves to give gifts to his children. (Matt. 7:11). A father who grieves when his child rebels, and watches the horizon for his return. (Luke 15:11-32). A father who must sometimes discipline. (Heb. 12:4-11).

Now I start to understand. I remember the way I’ve felt when our son got sick, or had an emergency appendectomy, or called about his first traffic accident. The ache we feel when when he has experienced disappointment. How there is no pain or hardship that I wouldn’t take on myself, given the power, if it would prevent him from experiencing it.

I know there is nothing in all the universe he could do that would make me stop loving him. I would give my life for him. It’s awful when I can’t give him something he wants because I know it isn’t good for him, or when I must let him face the consequences of his decisions because it is for his best to do so. He’s part me and part the woman I love – he is, in a way, created in our image – so of course I love him.

Parenthood makes me believe in God’s love, because the Bible says this is the way God loves us. Only, he does it perfectly.

Photo: James Tissot, The Prodigal Son Returns

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No one comes to the Father except through me

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I AM the bread of life

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