Great Lesson from the Life of Apostle Andrew

How should we react to our fellow Christians who are more gifted and God, out of his grace, chooses to use them more than us? This question lingered in my mind as I reflected on the life of Andrew one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

According to the Gospel by John, Andrew and John were the first people to join Jesus’ ministry. Later on Andrew brought his elder brother, Peter to join the ministry too (1:35-42). In no time, Peter acquired a leading role among the apostles of Christ. When Jesus decided to form his inner circle, he opted for Peter John and James leaving Andrew out.

Apostle  Andrew could have been bitter and developed resentment toward the chosen three.  He would have even also challenged Jesus: “What’s wrong with you Master? Why leaving an old-timer like me and picking up younger James who has just joined the ministry recently to be in your inner circle?”

Surprisingly, however, Andrew was content to serve Christ in whatever capacity despite being the first person to join Jesus’ ministry. We don’t even read a lot about Andrew in the Bible. It seems that what  mattered most to Apostle Andrew was serving God faithfully. He cared little who got the credit or prominence.

This is what we need in the Church today. Sometimes, we fight for positions and roles of influence forgetting that it is not the positions that matter most rather it is our faithful service to Christ that pleases God most.

We also learn from Andrew that when people more gifted than us come from behind and acquire leading roles, we ought not to fuss about it. As long as Christ gets the glory, all is well.

Blessings through SMS?

One Thursday evening while home my mobile phone beeped indicating I had received a new message. I did not know the number of the sender but the message read:

“Jesus loves you. Send it to seven people. Believe me after seven days your wish will come true but if you ignore it. You will be on your own seven years. Please do it with faith because it works.”

At first the message seemed nice and spiritual but my theological antennas sensed something amiss. The message suggests that my wishes will be granted by forwarding the message to seven people.

This means that Jesus will answer my prayer because I have sent short message service (sms) to seven people. If I don’t, he will punish me with a lonely life for seven years.

I have also received similar messages in my email inbox. Usually, they are forwarded messages asking me to also forward them to at least seven people and then God will bless.

Do we have biblical backing for this? Doesn’t Scripture tell us to pray in Jesus name for our needs and wishes? Has prayer become less powerful that God is now in the business of blessing people through sms? These are some of the questions that sprout in my mind.

I also wonder if this is not another form of idolatry. It should be a different god (and not the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ) who blesses people only because they have forwarded an email or an sms. What about those who don’t have cell phones or computers. How will he bless them? This kind of God for sure in not the one we find in Scripture.

Any way, back to my story,  I called the sender and told him that I don’t need to send sms to seven people for God to bless me and I can’t be on my own not even for a single second because God has promised in his Word never to forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

God also promises: “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving; present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).

Wonders alone not enough

How do you define true servants of God?  There is one thing that I would like to warn us not to use as a sole basis for determining true servants of God namely wonders.

Sometimes, we judge true servants of God by wonders. If they perform some wonders, we conclude they are true ‘men of God.’ We then drop our guard and stop examining the spirits as advised in 1 John 4:1.

I know that we cannot put God in a box, but I also know, basing on Scripture, that wonders and signs alone are not enough to guarantee that one is a true servant of God.

Please consider these two statements from Christ. The first statement He made referring to our time today. The other one, He made to refer to what will happen on the Day of Judgment.

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:24, 25).

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Jesus already warned us. We need not to drop our guard and by His grace we ought to stay watchful.

When Christians disagree…

Some people find it strange when Christians disagree. However, I tend to differ. Honestly, most of the times, I am not taken aback to see or hear Christians disagreeing except in a few cases when one clearly sees that God has been completely thrown out of the whole issue.

Christian squabbles don’t surprise me much because although Christians are saved and forgiven there are not perfect and there shall never be in this world. This is in no way condoning sin. God hates sin and we ought to hate it too. I strongly believe that Christians should always live a godly life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that sometimes we don’t. Let me not digress too much. The main issue here is about disagreements among or between Christians.

The story of Apostle Paul and Barnabas will help deliver my point home. These two Christians were greatly used by God.  They first met in Jerusalem when Paul had just become a Christian. While some were running away whenever they saw Paul because they could not believe that Paul had really changed, Barnabas accepted him and brought Paul before the Apostles and assured them that Paul was indeed a new creature in Christ.

The bond of friendship between the two grew stronger and even God was happy. No wonder the Holy Spirit chose the two to go and preach the gospel together in various countries outside Jerusalem (Acts 13:2). During their first trip on this mission, Barnabas took his cousin, John Mark along. As they continued to preach Christ in various countries, John Mark decided to return home before the trip had finished. Probably, John Mark could not stand the challenges that were being met in preaching Christ like being stoned or ridiculed or imprisoned. This act of young Mark did not go well with Paul.

Later on, when they decided to go back and revisit the churches they had planted in their first missionary trip, Paul advised Barnabas not to take John Mark with them again. But Barnabas insisted. This created a disagreement between the two. The Bible puts it that the two had “a sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39) hence they parted ways. Not good for Christians, uh?

I am sure the people who witnessed or heard about this commented like: “How can Christians disagree?” It is indeed sad that the two Christians failed to agree. But wait a minute! This is not the end of the story.

In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Get John Mark and bring him…because he is very helpful to my ministry.”

Can you please come again, Paul. Have I heard you right? I thought you disagreed and parted ways with Barnabas because you didn’t like John Mark. Why this change of heart?

Of course, we don’t have a record of the reconciliation between Paul and Barnabas anywhere in the Bible, but I have no doubts that the two reconciled and buried their differences. I hope you have now got my point. Christians are not perfect but when they disagree, you can be assured that reconciliation is inevitable.  Ask Barnabas Paul, and John Mark.