Serve in the Shadow
“Andrew. Oh! You’re Simon Peter’s brother, aren’t you?”
Andrew must have gotten used to that. Even the New Testament introduces him as “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1:40). Peter’s shadow is cast over Andrew from the beginning.
Andrew is mentioned by name 12 times in the New Testament. In ten of those he’s named along with Peter, and usually as Peter’s brother. Peter, on the other hand, has over 150 mentions, and actually contributed to the New Testament.
It’s interesting to note that Andrew had the more impressive résumé to begin with. He had been a disciple of John the Baptist. Not only that, but he was one of Jesus’ very first disciples (John 1:35-40). In fact, it was Andrew who went and “found his own brother Simon” and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41-42).
Yet even at this very first meeting it became clear that Jesus had plans concerning Simon that were different from Andrew. Before Simon had said or done anything, Jesus gave him his new name of Cephas (Peter), the rock.
Peter was God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that [he] should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We know many of these good works because God gives them a lot of press.
But Andrew was equally God’s workmanship. He too was created in Christ Jesus for good works that God had prepared beforehand. It’s just that God chose not to give Andrew’s works the same prominence he gave Peter’s. And so Andrew served in Peter’s shadow.
But Andrew had a great shadow-servant mentor in John the Baptist. Andrew had learned from John that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). John had seen Jesus’ rise and his own decline in prominence and said with joy-filled faith, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
And that is the cry of every true disciple. This whole thing isn’t about our prominence at all. It’s about Jesus’ prominence. Like the disciples (Mark 9:33-34) we tend to lose sight of this easily.
When God gives one disciple five talents, another two talents, and another one talent (Matthew 25:15) he has his reasons. Very likely they are different from what we think (Isaiah 55:9). He knows what he’s doing. We can trust him.
Today, be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5), and be faithful with what you have been given (Matthew 25:21). Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, trusting that he will exalt you at the proper time and in the proper way (1 Peter 5:6).
Be like Andrew. This shadow-servant was faithful, obedient, responsive, trusted, willing, and courageous. Tradition says that he continued to preach the gospel and plant churches until he was martyred by crucifixion in the AD 60’s
Where are some places that God might asking you to serve, that might be most needed, but in the shadow? Those are often the places that servants are needed most. Let us serve in the shadows God places us with that same joy-filled, overcoming faith.