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May 11 2013

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The 12 Disciples (Simon)

st-simon-jose-de-ribera1Simon, often known as Simon the Zealot or Simon the Canaanite, is only mentioned in the Bible when the names of the first 12 disciples/apostles are listed together.

Matthew 10:2-4, “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

Though so little is known of Simon we can in no way overlook him and consider him unimportant. There is much to learn from this mysterious man. After all, to be one of the 12 is a great honor and only Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus so we known Simon had to have been a faithful follower. According to history he became a missionary to Egypt and the larger surrounding area. He was martyred in Persia for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This isn’t in the Bible, but most historians believe the reason Simon is called the Zealot is because he was formerly part of the political organization at the time that was against the Romans and against paying taxes to the Roman Empire and Caesar. They were called the Zealot party and stood against tyranny. The fact that Jesus chose both Simon (an anti-tax, anti-Roman activist) and Matthew (a tax-collector employed by the Roman Empire) to be among his closest friends and to be apostles of the Church is incredibly inspiring. It shows me that Jesus doesn’t play politics and doesn’t call us based on our earthly loyalties. He doesn’t care if we’re Republican, Libertarian, Conservative, Environmentalist, Liberal, Socialist or Democrat. He doesn’t care if we’re from the United States, Great Britain, or Iran. He’s not about parties, platforms, campaigns, and slogans. Sure, I believe Jesus cares about us in this life and wants us to live with the freedom to worship Him without persecution from the government. I believe Jesus is strongly Pro-life and HATES abortion. I believe Jesus says that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe Jesus wants us to care for the poor. But I don’t believe He came to die on a cross because of these issues. He came so we could be born again, into His likeness, and receive the salvation of God – the righteousness we needed in order to become one with God as we were created to be.

Those who know me, especially Facebook friends, know that I tend to be passionate regarding certain causes and elections in American politics. I’m also proud to have British and Italian heritage in my ancestry. I celebrate and participate and advocate. But I’m reminded by Thomas, that though I love America, I love Jesus more and my center, the foundation of who I am and what I stand for, must be to share the gospel of Jesus Christ which I have experienced myself in testimony of Him. AND my service to others must be unbiased as Christ’s love for all of us is also unbiased and without prejudice.

Do You Love Jesus - 101I must be honest. I am not as vocal as I once was. I don’t walk the city streets and alleys looking for people to share the Gospel with. I don’t ask the waiter if his faith is in Jesus and I don’t ask my coworker if she knows she is going to heaven. The Lord uses us each differently and some are more vocal than others. But I pray often that God would bring people across my path that I can share the Good News of Jesus with them through my words, my life, or simply the anointing that I ask to walk in. I am often vocal of my fight to keep America one nation under God that values individual liberty and Biblical morality. I am proud of my Christian American heritage and the leaders who founded my country. You may be proud of your national heritage and traditions wherever you live. But I purpose to be even more proud and vocal about the salvation Jesus died to give us all!

Some of us may be famous disciples someday like Peter and John. Some of us may go down in history with a stigma like Doubting Thomas or Judas the Betrayer. But others of us won’t go down in history at all. We’ll be remembered by close family and friends, but no books will be written about us. Yet, we’ll still be His disciples. We will be rejoicing in heaven with the angels and the ‘saints of old’ as we love on our Savior and the God of all universes.

History tells us Simon may have been a brother of Jesus and someone who wanted to bring down the Roman tyranny. Others believe the translation for ‘Zealot’ simply means Simon was zealous about the Law of Moses and obeying Jewish law. We are fairly sure he died a martyr while preaching in Africa. And we know Catholics revere him as Saint. But none of this really matters, does it? What matters is Jesus said to Simon, “Follow me” and at some point Simon said, “I will follow.”

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

So no matter what your earthly passions are, no matter where your earthly citizenship and loyalties lie, no matter what cause or crusade you identify yourself with and support… let us each remember Jesus is all that matters in the end. If we belong to Him, we are citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Let’s not tear one another down as we shout from different sides of the aisle on any issue. Let’s share the Good News: JESUS SAVES!

- Richie

P.S. Just because we may disagree on an issue doesn’t mean I don’t love you. Just because I call something sin and you don’t doesn’t mean we are against one another. Just because I am a sinner doesn’t mean I’m not righteous in Christ. Jesus disagrees with our sin, but He still loves and accepts us just the way we are. Don’t let a political issue, a moral issue, or even a theological difference separate you from the man who died for you. Without Jesus the consequences of sin which is eternal separation from God – hell, whatever it looks like – are unbridled. But if we choose to follow Jesus the consequences are removed entirely and heaven - eternity as the immortals in the presence of God like we were first created to be - is ours. How silly it would be to think God doesn’t love you because you’re gay or because you were divorced or because you are into social justice. Regardless if we’re members of the NRA or PETA, or if we don’t even vote… Jesus wants us all!

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