Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
I used to think this was largely hyperbole, but having a wife who will get up at all hours of the night and spend hours praying, it’s much easier to see it as entirely realistic. Jesus had momentous decisions ahead of Him, choosing those who would represent Him, not only during His ministry but after His ascension. It’s interesting to me that for several of them, literally the only thing we know about them is their name. They might be mentioned a few times in the Gospel accounts, but that’s it. I think there’s a powerful lesson in that, because James son of Alphaeus was just as much an apostle as James son of Zebedee, and Simon the Zealot was just as much an apostle as Simon Peter. Fame is quite literally how people speak of you, but our value, and our evaluation, comes from what God says about us. When we realize that, fame becomes literally a non-issue. I don’t think we want to be famous the way Judas Iscariot is! I’m reminded of the widow who gave God all that she had to live on, who came up in the reading on the 19th. As I said then, we don’t know her name, but I bet she has plenty of honor in heaven! That’s part of what Jesus was talking about when He told us to “lay up treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Sociologists speak of “social credit,” and China has recently instituted a formal system to evaluate “how good a citizen” everyone is, entirely as a means to control people. We need to grasp, to the depths of our being, that the only “credit system” that counts is the one that’s eternal.
I would be the first to concede that it feels good to have people speak well of you, but right after this Luke records Jesus’ words of caution about that. (verse 26) However, there is a distinction between fame and reputation. Fame is meaningless, but I am to so live that bad things said about my character are all false. When I live with the awareness that God is my judge, then people’s opinions of me are valid only as they agree with His. Having lived as foreigners in Omura for 40 years now, we are pretty well known. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people whom I didn’t know personally telling someone else all about us! However, my real concern is how much our influence has drawn people to Christ. I thankfully don’t think we’ve driven many away, but sadly, many seem to admire the Christ they see in us without opening their heart to receive Him themselves. That is a continuing issue, and frankly a mystery. I’ve got to leave it in His hands, and discover how much fruit I really have born when I stand before His throne.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of being Your agent. May I care about nothing else, whatever people say, or fail to say, about me. May Your kingdom and Your righteousness indeed take first priority in my life, so that You may be pleased and glorified as Your will is done in and through me. Thank You. Praise God!