Saturday night it was snowing hard outside. But inside our meeting room, the sound was a little like rain on a tin roof. I could hear pennies dropping into a bowl in the front of the room. Students were walking up to the bowl, dropping in a couple pennies and sitting down.
Over 100 Asian American students from the east coast gathered together last weekend and at the end of their leadership retreat, we challenged them to take two pennies and offer them back to God. These pennies, like those given by the widow in Mark 12, represented two things:
It’s a small amount of money. They cost more to mint than they are worth. This represents what we have to give to Jesus. It’s a piddly, insignificant amount.
It may be insignificant, but it’s also representative of all we have. What we have is mostly failures and brokenness and that’s what we’re giving back to Jesus.
The idea — that we want to take everything we have and give it to Jesus — is at the heart of what we’re trying to do with Cru.
Ariel, one of our students from Brandeis, said, “One thing I take away from the Epic Conference: God doesn’t love us more or less depending on how we work to earn his love. And there’s nothing I can offer beyond submitting to His will. I loved the penny analogy. That we don’t really have anything to offer to God. He takes our brokenness and gives us a calling.”
A BU grad shared, “In my family, worth and love is based on performance. But I was challenged at Epic that in God’s family, I don’t have to ‘do’ anything.”
Across the country, we have winter conferences for students that are spread geographically and we also have some conferences, like this Epic Conference I helped out at this weekend that are designed to serve ethnic minority students (Asian Americans in this case).
Reaching every student on every campus means that we need to cross cultures and create environments where students can take their next steps with Jesus.
For this group of students, the next step was to give everything to Jesus – their work, their studies, their success, their failures, all of who they were…even if it was just a couple pennies.
Pastor Enoch, from Boston Chinese Evangelical Church, the speaker at the Epic Conference, shared a great image from John 21 that I had never noticed before: When Jesus invites the disciples to have breakfast with him, he asks them to bring some of the fish they just caught (something not based on their skill as fishermen, but based on Jesus causing the catch). But John tells us that the charcoal fire Already had fish laid out on it (vs. 9). In other words – when Jesus asks us to give us everything, it’s not only that he is the one who gives us everything in the first place, He already has all that he needs. He already has the fish.
What about you? What gifts has God given to you that he is asking you to give back? What pennies do you have to give back? Will you do it?
Loving our Adventurous Lord,
If you’d like to hear more of Pastor Enoch’s talks from the Epic Conference, here’s a link.