This morning in staff devotions we read Revelation 2:12-17. The bit that struck me most was this:
I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
Those sitting around the table who are, slightly older and, a lot wiser told us about the judcial system of the time when stones were use to show the verdct of a trial. If the defendant was deemed guilty, the jury members would place black stones into a container; if they were thought to be innocent, a white stone would be given. The imagery here is clear: when God, our Judge, looks at us he gives us a white stone, for He sees us to be innocent, just as Christ was innocent.
But there’s another side to this stone as well. A new name is engraved upon it. A new name known only to us and to God. It’s our new identity in Christ, our new character, hopes, dreams, and it’s not written on in marker pen that can be wiped off if we try hard enough but it’s engraved. Permanently and unchangeably carved into this rock because God has always known us and will always know us and nothing changes that. Only we, personally, will ever know the full extent of the change God has brought about in our lives – no one else can understand that, as much as we might try to explain.
The start of the passage also said:
I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.
There’s all sorts of historical stuff about why Pergamum was known as Satan’s City, all sorts of false idol worship and temples, but it made me think about the times when it can seem to us that God has forsaken us and even our entire city, like Satan’s grip on the lives here is too strong and we will never break it. Here’s a challenge to us though: don’t give up but give everything. If we remain loyal to God and trust in Him, He will use us. However, we also have to be willing to set aside our pride, dreams, lives and go and do whatever God asks of us for in Him all things are possible.
Jesus said, in Matthew 16:24-25, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it”. Are we willing to give up our lives to save our own and those of others?