We’re not all called to be Chris Tomlin. Thank God for him, but as worship leaders, it just doesn’t work like that. I don’t know the man and truthfully this journal entry isn’t really about him as much as it is about his notoriety in the modern church. Where God has placed him made for a very good example on the Forge today. So please… no letters about Tomlin. I love his music as much as you do. Having said that, I’ll reiterate, we’re not all called to be Chris Tomlin. What we are called to be is faithful, and to serve where we are with all of our hearts, regardless of the size of the stage or notoriety.
This reminds me of a man in the Bible named James.
Not James, the son of Zebedee (John’s brother), or James, the brother of Jesus (who wrote the book of James).
There is another James in scripture, James the son of Alphaeus. He was a disciple of Jesus, too.
This guy was so under the radar, so off of the map, that very little is known about him. I have a book that describes, side by side, aspects and personality traits of all of the disciples based on what is revealed in scripture. I wish you could see it. It’s fun. It says that Peter was impulsive, hot-tempered, yet insightful and very courageous. John was judgmental, a little selfish, yet bold and loving. Thomas was doubtful yet faithful, and the list goes all the way through the 12 disciples. But something strange stood out to me when the list reached James’s personality profile. For him, it simply says, “unknown.” Seems kind of bleak, especially when you hold his record against, say, Peter’s, John’s or pretty much any of the other 12. But you know what? Then I realized, for some wonderful reason the call of Jesus was extended to James as well—the least sanguine, the least noted, the least talked about. How about that! Jesus calls them too!
Sometimes we fall into the bad habit of measuring our lives side by side with others- others of greater notoriety, higher position, bigger than life personalities, power, money, accomplishments and so on. But guess what? Apparently, Jesus felt it necessary to have a James on His team. The world needed changing, the world needed saving, and don’t miss that there were only 12 slots open for the job. Yet out of time immemorial and of all the men in history, Jesus chose this James to be His very own disciple— a God follower.
This reminds me of a passage of scripture:
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Of course, James didn’t write this. In fact, this James didn’t pen any of the books in the Bible that we know of, which is precisely the point. But I’ll tell you what this disciple did do. James the son of Alphaeus lived it! He walked this verse out for us like no other disciple. And just so we’re clear, James was there, y’all. James was sent out just like the rest of the disciples (Matt. 10:5-8). He healed the sick, raised dead people, cleansed lepers, cast out demons and preached the kingdom of heaven is at hand, just like the other disciples. James had a chair at the last supper with Christ (Matt. 26:20) and James was there when Jesus revealed Himself after the resurrection (John 20:19-25). James was there…
Friends, do you know what this means? Let’s read the text again!
“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
According to scripture, secret faithfulness carries a not-so-secret reward and God is the giver of this treasure.
I don’t want this next statement to be misconstrued. Apply it to yourself if it needs to be applied…
This has been on my mind for a good while and James the son of Alphaeus has finally pulled a question out of me.
The question is:
Could social media, as enjoyable as it is (sometimes) thieve away our blessings? Are we trading eternal treasures at the hand of God for 150 character posts? Does it all have to be revealed? Are there any secrets left between you and God? No judgement here. I really mean it. I don’t have all this stuff figured out either and I wrestle with it just like you. For me, that’s what the Forge is all about—shaping, learning and conforming to who God is making me to be. So, if some of this stings, I’m sorry. It’s stinging me, too. Narcissism just might be the temptation of choice for this age that we live in. Could it be that the drug of choice for the masses today is self-addiction—a drug you can’t eat, smoke, inhale or shoot into your bloodstream, but an addiction nonetheless?
You see… narcissism is the drug of lost blessings.
If you are struggling with this, there is hope! God, in all His brilliance, has left us someone to take a clue from in His word. Sandwiched between the fiery zeal of Peter and compassionate embraces of John, Jesus enlisted among His most trusted, a man who would boldly yet quietly master the art of the secret blessing.
James… James would model for us a faithfulness that doesn’t have to be seen. And boy did God bless him openly for it!
When I’m tempted to think, will anyone care what I’m writing about? When I’m tempted to post every time I’m praying for someone, when I’m tempted to be intimidated by someone else’s ministry or gifting or whatever, James the son of Alphaeus comes to mind. Consistent, faithful, under the radar, James…. rewarded of God.