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Embracing Obscurity

By July 7, 2016April 24th, 2022Discipleship3 min read

Can you name the twelve Apostles? Go ahead, give it a try! No, Mark and Luke don’t count. Certainly, you named Peter, James and John, Matthew, Peter’s brother Andrew, probably Thomas, possibly Nathaniel, Simon the Zealot, the other James, Thaddaeus, and Judas. Now some of the more diligent in Sunday school among you might say, “What about Bartholomew?!” Oh yeah, I forgot about him. It’s easy to do because he is only mentioned amongst the other Apostles. His name only shows up on the roll call. He never asked Jesus a question in the Gospels; he never said stupid things like Peter. I don’t tend to watch movie credits, but if I watched the credits of a Jesus movie, I would expect someone important to play Peter, and then the names of the cast become more obscure. Finally, we come to Bartholomew, and it just says, “Apostle #12 – John Doe.”

Growing up, I felt like a Bartholomew.

I was with the right crowd. Everyone knew my friends, but I was the quiet guy in the back. I was the Bartholomew. “Hey, aren’t you the guy who hangs with…?”

In society, we are so fixated on people knowing who we are.

We see what other people are doing in social media or in real life, and we can begin to feel unimportant and irrelevant. But such is the case when our value is derived from what other people think. Therefore, we strive to make ourselves look better to be more liked. If you have had any modicum of success or recognition, you probably have also discovered people who far exceed your success and talent. It’s a terrible way to live. There is always someone more accomplished. This trap draws us into inauthenticity. We try to become someone we are not in order to impress others.

I wonder if Bartholomew felt like this?

Although there is very little written about him, what is written is significant. Jesus chose him! Mark 3:14 shows us something significant about Bartholomew and the other Apostles. Jesus “…Appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles], so that they might be with him, and he might send them out to preach.” Jesus chose Bartholomew to be with Him and to invite him into Jesus’ own work. Nobody else may have ever known who Bartholomew was, but Jesus knew.

You may not have a social media account. People may not download your podcasts. People may only think of you as that guy from that city. But know this: Jesus chose you to be with Him. He called you to Himself, and He has appointed you to join Him in His work. Maybe like Bartholomew you feel obscure, but that’s ok. There is only one who needs to know you.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD’” (Jeremiah 9:23–24).

Matt Kottman is the senior pastor at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship located in Prescott, AZ. Please visit his website. Also, follow Matt on Twitter.