On a Thursday afternoon, a young woman came by the office to give me something. She was going to put it in the offering plate, but decided to just hand it to me.
I was in a meeting, so she left it at the front desk.
On the outside it said, “Jim White,” and underneath, “Be careful…sharp objects inside.”
On the back it read, “I thought I was going to put this in an offering plate but I think it would be best to give you directly.”
I opened the envelope, and inside a plastic bag were razor blades.
And a letter.
I asked her if I could share it, and she said I could:
“I have been coming to your church on and off now since I was in 5th grade. I am now 23…When I was 12 years old I started cutting myself. Now my arms are covered in an overwhelming amount of scars, but I am proud to say there are no open cuts. I have not cut for probably a year now, but I still have razor blades that are hidden around my room…
“I quit when I was about to cut one day but heard Jesus in my ear saying, ‘I bled enough.’
“He took my pain on the cross and I no longer needed to take it out on myself.
“But I realized by holding on to razor blades I am not fully letting go of the pain and addiction to cutting. I want to fully let it go now...
“It says in the Bible, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him for He cares for you.’ So I’m doing that today. This is an offering plate and I am offering to Jesus today more than any amount of money I could ever offer Him. These are all my razor blades that I have keep hidden around in different places of my reach just in case.
“I am handing it over to God and I trust you also with this as well. Thank you for all you and this church have done in my life...”
And then she signed her name.
I have those blades in my desk drawer.
I will keep them there for as long as I pastor.
James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book,The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.
The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. (Luke19:11 NLT) (whole story)
What we read this entire story about the kingdom of God, we learn several things.
Luke tells us right away (even before the story) that Jesus is trying to "correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away." So while the kingdom of God is near (Jesus says earlier), it's not fully present and won't be until after the cross and Jesus' second return.
Jesus then begins to show that covenant is a essential part of kingdom. We see that the servants in his kingdom have a relationship with him. They are entrusted, therefore, with kingdom responsibilities. Some invest and one does nothing (out of fear and foolishness).
Kingdom Responsibility comes with Covenant Relationship. They are two sides of the same coin.
Those who invested and got a return on the king's money were blessed with a lot more responsibility, privilege and favor.
We learn that those who don't want the king to be their king will not enter into a covenant with them. Instead, they will receive his judgement. That judgement is they cannot be a part of his kingdom.
First, we learn that God entrusts responsibilities to his servants--his kingdom citizens. He gives them a mission and resources to carry out that mission. He expects those resources to be invested wisely in the mission. And he generously rewards those who do that well.
For us this is everything that God has given us. It's our time, talent and treasure. What we spend these on and the results we get matter to God. He doesn't just bless us to make us happy. He blesses us to be a blessing by investing ourselves in the mission.
Note he also disciplined the one who had a relationship with him but did not invest the king's resources wisely. God disciplines his children.
Second, he punishes (even judges) those who reject a relationship with him. (the citizens who didn't want him to be their kin) Not having a covenant relationship with the king means you're his enemy. It's unwise to be an enemy of God.
It's important that we evaluate our relationship (or lack thereof) with God, our Creator and King. If we are in that covenant relationship with him, our next step is to evaluate how faithful and fruitful we are being as his stewards. He's entrusted to us the responsibility to manage our God-given time, talent and treasure well. We're to join him in his holy search and rescue mission to follow Christ and lead others to do the same.
How are you doing?
What is God saying to you?
What are you going to do about it?
Note: To read many of my thoughts on scripture on a more regular basis, follow me at YouVersion.com.
“The distance around the entire city will be 6 miles. And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The LORD Is There.’ ” (Ezekiel48:35 NLT)
This name for the city is an interesting one. "The LORD is There" is what The Lord told Ezekiel the name of the city of God would be.
Why that name?
Because it's a picture of the ultimate city of God--the New Jerusalem; the New Zion.
"The LORD is There."
Why is this significant?
It seems to me that the Lord's presence is significant. It always is in scripture. The classic example I think of is when the ark of the covenant blesses Obed-Edom and his family when David leaves it at his house.
Wherever God is--his blessings flow. Healing, peace and all the fruit of the Spirit of God follow him. It's why it matters that "The Kingdom of God is near." It's why it's good news when scripture says, "He draws near to the broken-hearted."
Well, one day we, as God's people, will live in this city. And it will be precious because he'll be there. He will be THERE." As a result, we will live in ecstasy and ever increasing joy for the eternity.
That's amazing news.
Therefore, I should live in light of that hope--that faith-filled future. For he is faith-full!