October, 2005: James the Lesser

James, son of Alphaeus, is this month’s apostle. He is named in the list of Apostles in Matthew 10:1-3, Mark 3:14-19, Luke 6:13-16, and Acts 1:13. He may or may not have been Matthew’s brother. His mother was named Mary.

Not much is known about the later ministry of this apostle; however, one historian wrote,"The seeds of Syrian Christianity had been sown in Jerusalem during the Apostolic age and the contention has been made that the first bishop of the Syrian church was none other than St. James of the Twelve Apostles, identified as 'St. James the Less'." It has also been said that James (son of Alphaeus) was stoned in Jerusalem for preaching Christ and buried by the Sanctuary.

That’s about it.

So what do we do with an apostle about whom so little is known?

First, even though we do not know much about James the Lesser (so named because he was smaller or younger than the other apostle named James), God knows his name. Further, God knows much more than his name; but it is sufficient for the point here to note that God does know his name.

Many of us wander through life wondering if we will be remembered. The truth of the matter – at least for me – is that most of my current neighbors have no idea who I am, so I cannot imagine that there will be extended histories shared with following generations regarding my life. That said, God knows my name. He created me. He sustains me. He loves me enough that Jesus died and rose again for me. He has adopted me and made me an heir of the Kingdom of God.

That God knows my name is a tremendous comfort when I am feeling lonely or isolated. It brings me peace when I am frustrated by the lack of success at achieving my goals. It convicts me when I am tempted to sin; it is the ultimate answer to, “Who will know?”

God knows us in such detail that we have a difficult time comprehending it.

Second, it is worth noting the impact we can have with just a witness. James’ life impacted scores of others and, if we were able to trace back how God has used him, we would be amazed at the wake his testimony has given us. Likewise, each of us bears witness to others who we may or may not know. God may have used us to encourage someone else, to convict someone else, to rebuke someone else – all without our ever knowing it. When we intentionally seek to follow God, God will bless that witness. God does not promise, however, to always let us see the result of our faithfulness. We have to trust Him in this; just as we have to trust Him in so many other ways.

If God knows our name and uses us for His glory, that’s a pretty good way to be remembered.

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