By Greg Grotewold
I was in pure panic mode. I scurried from one place to the next frantically searching for my lost treasure. I checked everywhere: my bedroom, my mom’s washer and dryer, the car, my fort, my school desk, and even the trash can in the school cafeteria. (Yes, I dug through the day’s food scraps, a disgusting but necessary task.) My precious boar’s tusk, an item that along with my knife had occupied my right front pocket for years, was gone. It was to no avail. My search was in vain, and I would never see it again.
In an effort to comfort his son, my dad gave me a box full of tusks the following Christmas. However impressive the collection was, none of the new teeth I tried out worked. Not a single one fit my pocket like the old one. Even if any of them had, it just wasn’t going to be the same. I wanted mine back. The one that to my mother’s great annoyance went through the wash who knows how many times. The one that I proudly displayed to my classmates during “show and tell” at the start of the school year. The one I would study for hours while in the car on a long trip. The one that would accompany me everywhere I went.
There are very few things I recall about second grade, some 45 years ago, but this is clearly one of them. It’s a memory that surfaces periodically, the most recent being earlier last month. I had run across a document labeled “Who I am in Christ,” a wonderful outline of our identity as blood-bought believers. It is broken out into three sections – “I am Accepted,” “I am Secure,” and “I am Significant” – followed by corresponding Scripture for each. It was the last item that caused a trip down memory lane.
While the analogy is a bit of a stretch, it does speak to the intricate nature of significance and pursuit. As I adored my tusk, Jesus adores His redeemed. As I relentlessly pursued my lost tusk, Jesus relentlessly pursues His lost people (and, unlike me, always finds what He pursues). But here is where the parallel breaks down. The inherent value between the two targets is different. A person is obviously worth more than some piece of enamel. But, it goes further than that. In Jesus’ case, the value of the pursued is tied to the value of the pursuer. We are significant to Jesus in part because Jesus is significant to Himself. Given His interest in His own acclaim, pursuing future worshippers fuels that pursuit. This is not the case with the tusk. As much as I adored the tooth and treated it with significance, its value was self-contained. I added nothing to its worth because it added nothing to mine.
I hope Jesus’ desire for His own glory isn’t a stumbling block for you. In no way does it diminish the love He has for His elect. In fact, given such love is a product of His unmerited favor, we should be thrilled that His adoration of us – and the innumerable blessing consequently produced – is tied to our adoration of Him. It would be a fretful existence if His pursuit was contingent upon our worth and not His own.
The reason Jesus pursues us doesn’t lessen His affection for us or our significance to Him. Scripture makes clear that the Lord sees us as precious. “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life” (Isaiah 43:4, ESV). He treats us as a treasure. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7-6, ESV). And He rejoices over us. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV).
But, it goes further than that. When the Father looks at His redeemed, He sees the Redeemer. He doesn’t see Greg Grotewold and his brokenness; He sees the Savior who saved Greg Grotewold from his brokenness. He sees Jesus and His perfection. Another way of saying this: the Father is as pleased with us as He is with His Triune Son. He carries the exact same level of affection for me and other believers as He does Jesus. And it’s all because of what that Triune Son did for us at Calvary. He died our death, and we took on His perfectly holy identity and thus His significance. Now that’s love.
Because of Jesus, those who follow Him are profoundly significant. May this reality spring a new level of worship for the God who pursues and restores. For those who don’t follow Jesus, now is the time to make Him your treasure and be treasured in return.
Greg lives in Oakdale, Minn. with his wife, Sandi, and their two sons, Luke and Eli. He is a deacon in his local church and greatly enjoys serving in this capacity.