Everyone seems to want their place in the sun. Is that a bad thing?
It’s hard to know at times isn’t it?
We live in such a communication infested world where feedback either strokes our ego or ravages our self-esteem. How many people will read my blog? It’s only ten people today! What’s the point? You know the story. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with affirmation, influence, making a difference, or being recognized. But maybe I’m not the only one who wrestles with significance – that ebbs and flows with circumstances.
What’s become an issue is that too many promote themselves – very openly and unabashed. Or for some, that’s what they desire in their heart and thus withhold from others as a by-product of envy or ambition.
What would it be like to step off the tiring and never-ending treadmill? To find contentment in rejoicing wherever I happen to be now; not because I necessarily love my circumstances, but because I am loved and provided for in the midst of them? God is a God of process, character formation, integrity, and truth. When things don’t happen quickly enough I jump to the conclusion that I’m being passed by, not good enough, have lost the plot, or whatever.
I suspect many of the heroes in Biblical times are never mentioned but are counted as those who played a significant supporting role in the shadow of the ones we do know. The widow whom Jesus noticed giving her ‘mite’ in the offering plate, the boy with sandwiches (and his mother who made them), the ones who helped Mary and Joseph search for Jesus when they lost him in Jerusalem.
And then there’s Barsabbas. He was among the gathering of disciples (about 120 men and women) who were together after the resurrection appearances of Jesus. They were completely bewildered, excited, frightened, and out of their depth. The eleven Apostles were in the larger group, minus Judas, who’d committed suicide after betraying Jesus and unable to face his remorse.
Peter, never one to sit still, jumped up and spoke to the group, quoting scriptures to support his conviction that they needed to replace Judas right now! No-one seemed to object and the group selected two men as candidates. Matthias, and Joseph (also known as Barsabbas and Justus). The fact that they were nominated was a huge testimony to the regard in which they were held. They were affirmed by their peers as men who’d been with Jesus throughout His life, death and resurrection. They were eye-witnesses to Him and His ministry as well as friends and associates of the other Apostles. They were humble and obviously possessed a quality of character the rest appreciated. Men whom they would be happy to follow as leaders.
The method for selection was rooted in the Old Testament; the drawing of lots. They followed the procedure ‘they’d always used’ and Matthias was chosen to be the twelfth Apostle. So what happened to Joseph? How did he feel and respond?
Of course we have no idea because we never hear of him again. Later in Acts 7 his name is not mentioned among those selected to serve at tables – men known to be full of the Holy Spirit. In our thinking perhaps he should have been the first and most obvious choice.
I suspect that Joseph accepted the decision, trusted God, and continued with his life with the same grace and spirit which has caused him to be a possible candidate for apostleship in the first place. The true hallmark of Christian maturity and leadership is how we respond when we are ‘second’. Unfortunately many fail the test, they become bitter and angry, march off to look for another church or ministry, protest about the process, and…. You probably know the story.
Was Peter even correct in his suggestion and use of Scripture? Maybe, maybe not. What if his use of scripture was correct but the interpretation was misguided? For instance, did God really want them to draw lots at that point, or were they merely relying on what they’d always done when they were actually in a new season?
Whatever the answer God is faithful and kind and knew their intent and heart. It is possible that His ‘perfect will’ was for Paul to be the twelfth ‘apostle’ to replace Judas. But at the time such a suggestion was outrageous. Back then Saul was an up and coming Jewish ‘fundamentalist’ who’d have been knocking their door down to imprison or kill them. Who’d have imagined or thought?
Perhaps when we get to heaven we’ll discover that Joseph Justus Barsabbas was one of the hidden leaders of the new church in Jerusalem who supported Simon Peter. Perhaps he mentored Phillip and others who were later selected to ‘wait at tables’. Maybe he worked with Barnabas and sung the praises of Matthias the twelfth apostle (when he could have been).
Let’s not underestimate those we’ve never heard of, including ourselves. The vast majority of significant ministry in the name of Jesus is done away from the spotlight in daily living, caring, supporting, and believing.
You may be someone no one has ever heard of. But God knows your name, see your heart, holds you close, and loves your willingness to support and serve. You just maybe more famous in heaven than you realize, and more significant and appreciated on earth than you know. In God’s eyes the qualities required to ‘be second’ could be of greater significance that those who are in limelight leadership. People such as John the Baptist (He must increase I must decrease), Mary, Joseph, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Dorcas, and lots and lots of others…..
As John ended His gospel…. “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that could be written”.
Need someone to talk to, listen, be encouraged to navigate your present and your future? Go to Little Mountain Counselling to find out more. Not a hopeless end, but endless hope.