And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart, show us which one you have chosen. – Acts 1:21-22
One of the first things the early church did was replace Judas as the twelfth apostle. They only had one requirement for the candidates: They wanted someone who had been there the whole time. Someone who had been along for the whole ride starting at John’s Baptism and ending at the resurrection. Two guys came to their minds; a guy named Matthias, and then this other guy who seemed to have three possibilities of names. The apostles had no clue who to choose, so they prayed a prayer that sounds a lot like a prayer most church leaders would pray today. They cast lots, Matthias was chosen, and that was that.
When I read that this morning, I felt like there was a winner and a loser. I wondered if one was absolutely elated while the other felt rejected. I wondered if Matthias felt like he landed the job of a lifetime while Joseph felt like he missed a huge opportunity by what would amount to a coin toss today. If that was the way it was, then I have felt both of these men’s emotions. I know what it feels like to be accepted and invited in to lead with a group of folks. I also know what it is like to hear, “Sorry, we are going in a different direction.” I just had to ask God, “How did Joseph feel about all of it?”
This past Sunday, the Lord allowed me to lead worship at a little church in Walhalla called Open Door Baptist Church. There were two defining moments for me. The first came during the second song. God shrunk the whole world and enclosed all my surroundings and for a moment it was just us. I had enough awareness to know that I didn’t want to just fall down and cry, so I just kept singing with all my heart, “Be high and lifted up, be high and lifted up, be high and lifted up, Jesus. It’s You we glorify, it’s You we’re lifting high, Your Name we glorify.” All I can say is that it was some place beyond wonderful. The next moment came when I was singing the last song. The entire congregation was singing way more wonderfully than I was, so I just stepped back, looked at the screens with them, and joined them as they sang, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, pour out our praise.” It had to be at least a fraction of a percent as wonderful as it is going to be in heaven. We must get new and glorified bodies to go to heaven because I don’t think we could take the worship there if we remained in these.
I believe God did this with me so I would not think that Matthias and Joseph viewed this choosing of an apostle as a competition. Those two guys were good either way. God showed me through these two moments in these songs what it was really all about and what it remains to be all about to this day. If I am Matthias and am chosen to lead with a group of men in ministry, then do it for His glory. If I am not chosen, then just remain faithful and pursue the pure presence and purpose of the Almighty God. Both men were and still are more than conquerors through Him.
You see, there was no winner and loser on this day in history. In fact, if there was, the one we think was the winner really won the inferior prize. Joseph had a surname which many must have used to address him. I’m willing to bet God always called him by his surname. I’m almost certain that God separated the syllables every time He got his attention. “Hey, come spend some time with Me . . . Just us.”
Lord, if you want me in public ministry again, I’ll gladly go where you lead. But Lord, if you want to hide me from the world and let it be just us, then I have to say that sounds incredibly appealing. Thank you for answering my prayers this past week in ways that far exceed what I could think or imagine. Thank you for teaching me that there is no competition with You. Help all who read this today and all who would call themselves Christian to really get it. Draw us all individually to a place of one on one. Change our hearts so that our number one desire is alone time with You. No audiences. No congregations. No crowds. No small group. Those things are good and are sometimes even wonderful, but they could never replace just me and You.