“They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world.”
John 17:16 (Common English Bible)
Dylan Scott found the inspiration for his first Top 5 single, My Girl, from his high school sweetheart, Blair Anderson, now his wife. As Scott tells it, he recalls riding in his truck with Blair when an Eminem song came on the radio. The innocent Louisiana girl right next to him instantly switched gears – figuratively speaking – and began rapping the lyrics to “Lose Yourself,” leaving Scott shocked and inspired. Scott says that she scooted over close to him in the cab of the truck and she rapped the whole song. Later, Scott sat down to write a song about what happened, beginning with a few lines about the magic of emotions he experienced watching his girl rapping Eminem. Then it dawned on him – this was only one of the many, unexpected things he was privileged to see in “my girl” that no one else gets to see.
“My Girl” is a love song composed by Dylan Scott that is deeply personal – Scott’s love story for Blair Anderson. Here, in John’s Gospel is another love story. Rather than a song, Jesus here composes a prayer to his heavenly Father expressing his love for us. And in this single sentence, from a longer prayer, Jesus utters something similar to Dylan Scott, “they don’t belong to this world.” What Jesus is saying is that he sees something in us that sets us apart from the rest of the world. When Jesus sees us, Jesus sees more, perhaps even more than we see in ourselves. Scott’s lyric, “But I bet they don’t see what I see when I see my girl, Oh, my girl” is spoken by Jesus first.
What does Jesus see in us? Perhaps it is nothing more than what the old axiom states, “Love is blind.” Perhaps Jesus’ indescribable love for us has clouded the clarity of his vision; that Jesus sees something that is simply not there. In so many ways we are exactly like the world with it’s selfish desires, greed and, at times, insensitivity to others and cruelty. In a world that is largely defined by self-interest, we look no different. We do – in fact – belong to the world!
On the other hand, a closer look at Jesus’ prayer reveals something more than a simple love for us. Two stanzas later in his love prayer, in verse 19, Jesus prays, “I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.” Jesus does not simply see us as we are at the moment. Jesus is looking at us through faith that we can be changed, made so much more than we are now. And the catalysis for that change will be Jesus himself. Jesus “made myself holy on their behalf” so that by our decision to live in him, we also will be made holy. An early lyric of Scott’s song, My Girl, is, “I can honestly say that she saved me, my girl.” Jesus is praying to his Father in heaven. And Jesus’s plea to his Father is, “I honestly believe, I can change them; I can save them.” Jesus then directed his face to the cross.