The Outsider

(Part Thirteen in the Disciples Series. Click the Disciples link on the sidebar to begin at the introduction called Different Strokes.)

Matthias sat on the ledge overlooking the city and rested his chin in his hands. The lot had fallen to him. Who would have guessed?

He hadn't even wanted it. Who was he to fill Judas' place? Would he be forever linked with that traitor? "Oh, this is Matthias. He took Judas' place. You know, the one who betrayed the Lord?"

His stomach tightened as he remembered that night. It now seemed as though it had happened in another lifetime. He'd never really felt like one of them, but now he was. Who was he to carry on this glorious work the Lord had started? The whole thing had taken him by surprise and he had yet to get over it.

He let his mind drift back to that last day. Jesus had stood before them, talking like he had so many times. He had been preparing them for something, but as usual, they didn't understand until later.

He had warned them not to leave Jerusalem yet. He said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Then He began to rise into the air. Calm, unruffled, as though he did this kind of thing every day. The look on his face would echo in their memories until they saw him again.

He had literally glowed with joy. His eyes held a touch of regret at leaving them, but anticipation at seeing his Father.

Matthias had stood with the others, yet felt as though he was a mile away. He had kept himself at a distance. Behind them. Who was he to carry on as though he had always been with them? Would they accept him? They had their stories, their inside jokes, that special language of those who belonged together. Would he always be on the outside?

Into his mind came the final words of Jesus: "...when the Holy Spirit comes upon you..."

Something stirred inside his chest. What had Jesus meant? Why were they to wait here? What difference would it make?

He jumped off the ledge and dusted the back of his robe. They were waiting now, in that upper room. All of them, hiding really. Praying and hoping that everything they had staked their lives on would happen as Jesus said it would.

Jesus had never been wrong before. He wouldn't be wrong now. Maybe that would make the difference. Maybe this Holy Spirit he spoke of would draw even late-comers like Matthias into the inner circle. Maybe it would take the Holy Spirit before he felt like he belonged.

We've all been where Matthias was.

The one outside the crowd who didn't quite fit in. That awkward, apologetic feeling that makes you wonder if it's you or if it's them. The Johnny-come-lately. That nervous grimace when everyone else seems to get it but you. They all know each other, all the old stories, inside jokes. You have a right to be there, but emotionally you're not sure.

Matthias was right. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the difference. When the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Acts chapter 1, they were "all in one accord." There were no longer insiders or outsiders. They were all brothers and sisters in Christ, unified in the Spirit.

Unity is the Holy Spirit's work. He is the great equalizer. In Him there are no superstars and no losers. There are no have's nor have-not's. Many times we try to accomplish God's work by man's methods. The results are usually man-made.

That's why Jesus said "Wait. Don't try to do My work in your own strength."

Are you trying to look like everybody else, hoping you appear "Christian" enough?

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, it no longer matters what others think of you. You care very little how popular, how admired, or how comfortable you feel. The power they received from "on high" swept away the pettiness and man-made labels they had for each other. From then on, it was all about God.

Do you identify with Matthias?
Maybe you need the Holy Spirit too?


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