Do you have an insatiable appetite for approval? Most of us would quickly answer “no” but if we really had to take a long look at our souls we might answer a little differently. Do we long to be recognized? Do we hate to be overlooked or forgotten? Does it drive us crazy when we have labored long and hard over a task to not be thanked? Do we relate to people more for what they do or do not do for us versus how we can serve them? Are we content to live in someone else’s shadow? Are we content to live in the shadow of the Cross?
In the book of James, the author introduces himself this way, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” What a strange way to introduce oneself! In this opening, James uses the word “servant” but the Greek word for “slave” is actually in mind here. James is saying that he is a slave to Jesus Christ, born and raised! Perhaps James suffers from a low self-esteem or perhaps he is an underachiever. Maybe he is no type “A” personality instead content with being forgotten. Maybe James doesn’t have any real accomplishments with which to promote himself.
Who was this James who introduces himself like this? We believe that this was James, the leader of the Jerusalem Counsel. As one writer put it, he was the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Jerusalem! No small calling. This was the James that the Apostle Paul called “a pillar of the church.” No small designation. Finally, this was James, the half-brother of Jesus! No unimportant lineage! What a great pedigree! He was leader of the Jerusalem Counsel, pillar of the church and half-brother of our Lord and Savior. With this stunning resume, why would James introduce himself as a slave to Christ? As we read through the rest of his book we begin to understand that this was a man who was content and even longed to live in the shadow of the Cross, in the shadow of his Big Brother. He believed that he, James, had to decrease that Christ might increase. He loved pointing others to Christ and His life, death and resurrection.
How about you? Are you content to live in the shadow of the Cross, having your reputation and desires diminish so that Christ and His kingdom might grow and flourish? If Christ is our Lord and Savior, we can indeed be content to be forgotten and overlooked because we have been and will be remembered by the King of the universe through His Son. Our resume is stamped in blood, “Beloved of the King.” We are forgotten and overlooked in this life by the world but remembered and loved for eternity by God. Now that’s not bad!!
by Greg Marshall