Bind us together Lord
“You didn’t choose me. I chose you…”
John 15:16 (NLT)
Look at the disparate group Jesus chose as his apostles. Some we know very little about, but we are given enough details to realise that they were a diverse group.
We have two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew and James and John, and possibly a third with James the son of Alpheus and Matthew. On the other hand, Thomas’ name means twin, and he seems to be on his own. Three came from the same town of Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. At least four of them were fishermen.
Their levels of wealth and their place in society may well have been varied. John, though a fisherman, seems to have had influential connections, being acquainted with the High Priest.
Matthew was a tax collector, which would have made him a wealthy man. And tax collectors were considered not just unclean and on a par with prostitutes, but traitors to the nation – working for the Romans, extracting more taxes from the people than they owed, giving the Romans what they thought they owed and keeping the extra.
And we have Simon the Zealot. In the run up to the First Jewish-Roman War (66-70AD), the
Zealots were an aggressive political movement who sought to overthrow the occupying Roman government. Was Simon an early member of this group? If so, he would have despised any Jew who worked with the hated pagans.
In character there were some big differences: Peter, impetuous and impulsive; John and James, the sons of Zebedee, labelled the sons of thunder; Thomas, the questioner. And one was a thief and willing to betray Jesus for his own ends.
It would be an English understatement to say that this was not a group that would naturally harmonise together.
Now take an overview of Acts and Paul’s letters. What do we see? As the church began to grow and expand to other nations, groups were being called into the church, coming with divergent backgrounds, beliefs and customs. God is still at it – bringing us all together, till we are truly one in Christ.
I am grateful that in our small church in Lewes, though of course we have a good smattering of English, we also have Irish, Caribbean, and German members. And for a while, until moving to be with their family, an American. We have a small group of historical enemies. What a blessing.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. From the time of choosing the apostles and throughout time, Jesus will continue to bring us together in him to learn to live in peace and reconciliation.
Father, at times we have found being part of the body of Christ painful. Too often we have failed miserably. We have not followed our Saviour into the way of peace and harmony. We ask for your forgiveness and mercy and your power to be the united family you intend us to be. Amen
Study by Hilary Buck
About the writer:
Hilary Buck is a Minister and pastors the Lewes congregation
of Grace Communion International.
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street
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