Among Christians, there is often a lot of dialog regarding God’s gifts to us. His spiritual gifts to us are those things of course that produce spiritual fruit for Him and increase our joy in Him. Other types of gifts include expressions of His providence, protection, and empowerment, not to mention at times those ways that God moves at times in regard to healing or supernatural helps.
For some, heaven is the greatest gift they can think of and, similarly, eternal life is what some have decided is God’s greatest gift to us and look forward to the day of no longer having any pain or sorrow, but also a happy reunion with family members who have passed on.
But the greatest gift that God has given us is none of the above… not even the gift of eternal life (if by “eternal life” we mean ceaseless existence or even a happy here-after in heaven). No, the greatest gift that He has given us is the gift of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son.
First, there is His condescension in becoming a man and then living among us. Consider what Jesus gave up in donning human flesh: the glory of heaven, the unveiled fellowship with His Father, and the awesome authority that was His. There is also His laying down of His sinless life at the hands of those for whom He came to love. He knowingly and willingly gave Himself to those who meant to kill Him and silence His invitation for love to all people, no matter their background.
But there is even more to it than this. The giving of Himself to us is literal and ongoing, meant not only for those who happened to live in the days of His earthly incarnation, but for all who have lived since and for those who live today.
In other words, Almighty God offers HIMSELF to us and desires that we come to Him and experience Him. Even the “perks” of eternal life (John 17:2-3) are tied to our coming to Him: no one can enter heaven or be accepted by the Father except those who come through Jesus Christ (John 10:1, 28; 14:6). Nor can we have any assurance of God’s blessings apart from coming to Him through God the Son.
“…Christ… in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3 ESV).
In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that illuminate dark moments of life’s doubts, empower us when we have run out of encouragement, and refine our character so that we reflect the Person of Jesus into a world that has rejected Him thereby depriving humanity of the hope and healing that only He can give.
As a Christian, do not underestimate the value of spending time alone with God. The urgent and vital work of daily seeking Jesus in prayer and in meditating on His Word is the only source of nourishment that can keep your spiritual life healthy and functioning as it ought. Too much of the time, a person’s “Christian life” is relegated to his experience in worship services (stirring music, moving messages, etc.) or service activity (e.g., helping out on a church work day or volunteering on a church committee). While not denying that such functions are necessary, the value of such external expressions of faith are directly related to whether or not we have personally come to God as well, seeking His love, correction, and empowerment for our own individual lives.
The world needs the presence of Jesus to counter the degrading effects of self and sin. The Church needs the power of Jesus to maintain a voice with enough credibility and authority to make a difference. The individual child of God needs the person of Jesus to unlock the provisions of God in practical experience.
This is why, of course, we come in the name of Jesus Himself as we approach God the Father through prayer, having cast off the rags of our old identities as sinners and are wrapped in the white robes of righteousness that Jesus’ sacrifice affords us. It is through Jesus that we can expect God to hear our petitions and it is through Him that we can have any degree of confidence that He will answer them.
Some may scoff at our trust in the Lord to hear us, and some may ridicule our belief that God will answer, but we know that for us individually, as well as our families, churches, schools and communities, the victory in life that we crave is secured only through devoted occasions of personal prayer. Such prayer produces in us the character and faith necessary for our worship to be meaningful and our service to be fruitful. But it pleases our God also to move the mountains in our lives, provide for our needs miraculously, and at times calm either the surging storms that beat upon us or the surging storms that beat within our hearts.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 21 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected].