Secret Understanding    Revelation 2:17 says the Lord Jesus Christ gives a white stone to those who overcome.  It has on it a name known only to the recipient and the Lord who gave it.  It is a new name. 

When I feel close to someone, I give them a new name;   a  nickname. It captures my affection for them or something about them.  Our 14-year-old, all-boy grandson, Micah, was given the moniker the Micahnator.  A sweet friend in Seattle became Double Stuff (from the Oreo cookie).  Jesus changed the name of Simon to Cephas, which translates as Peter.

This new name is personal and it’s a secret.  There is something tantalizing about a secret i.e. secret passageway, code, map or number.  Secrets are drawing and inviting and enticing.

I believe this new name shows that Jesus Christ has a private interest and love and understanding of each believer.  We long to be sympathetically understood.  Friends try to enter into our lives, but their gifting, orientation and experiences are different, limiting their understanding. The Lord knows no such limitation. 

Could it be that the giving of this name also carries the genuine, full and total understanding of our Creator?  I hope so. 

Unaware of God’s Love    Sin has impacted our perception of being loved. We do not automatically sense it. We do not see God’s footprints and fingerprints of love in daily events. It can slip from our awareness, crowded out by pressures and daily responsibilities.     

Expecting What Form Love Will Take    Sometimes we have an expectation of what form love will take:

  • When I was a child,  hearing  that God loved me, I thought, “If God loves me, why doesn’t He give me an ice cream cone?”
  •  When I was a teenager (and not a Christian, but in church every Sunday), I heard 10,000 X 10,000 times that Jesus died for me.  That supposedly, was love. It seemed irrelevant to me. I did not need Him to die for me. 
  • When I was in seminary, occasionally statements would come from the faculty and administration of concern for students.  I thought, “Yes, they do care about us, so how about that love taking the form of Grade Amnesty  — each student would get one grade higher than he earned.  Or a break on the tuition.  The financial water line was between my upper lip and my nose.  Financial relief would be so helpful.

Leadership is Seeing the Consequences  of attitudes and actions further into the future than those we are attempting to lead. 

  • Teachers lead a resistant student to learn how to spell, knowing that one day the student will want to know how to correctly fill out an employment application.   It does not bode well to ask someone how to spell academic.
  • Dad teaches his son manners, knowing that one day he will want to impress a lovely young lady.  

What are the long-range consequences of me as a child getting an ice cream cone?  Hunger is held off for another 20 minutes.  How about reduced tuition or grade amnesty?  Only a short-term benefit. 

What were the long-range consequences of seminary?  Where did love intersect with the leadership required to have a school exist?   The faculty and administration hoped the students would be grateful for the training which would lead to a life time of fulfilling work.  The students were expected to see the existence of a seminary as the faculty’s love and interest in their lives.

Students needed a bigger perspective than I had at that time.  Just working for a living and school consumed my energies.  Fortunately, the leadership saw into the future further than I did.  They saw God honored and me enjoying decades of satisfying service.  Love intersected with leadership.

What about Jesus dying for people?   What were the long-range consequences of His leadership?  Where did His love intersect with His leadership?  How far into the future did His leadership reach?  Love and leadership kissed each other when Jesus Christ died to atone for out sins. 

So we are charged with “remain in His love” (John 15:9) and “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).  What does that look like? How do we do that?  I suggest it means being grateful you can read this . . . ate breakfast this morning . . . live in wealthy America . . . enjoy freedoms that are the envy of the world  (there’s a reason people are struggling to get into America) . . . and have a clean, warm, dry and safe bed to sleep in at night.  Heaven ain’t bad either.