By Way of Introduction

It is interesting to listen to introductions, I think. When people are introduced to a crowd–a speaker, for instance–the introductions are often long and flowery and, even when entirely accurate, seem to present the individual as “the best thing since sliced bread.” I have been asked on more than one occasion to provide a biography when I have been scheduled to speak somewhere, and I am well aware that those asking fully expect me to provide a page-long description of what I have accomplished and why people should care to listen to anything I have to say.

Even in person-to-person conversation we tend to introduce ourselves by saying one (or more) of three things: what we do, where we are from, and/or to whom we are related. The setting sometimes makes a difference. For example, if I am visiting my brother’s church I might introduce myself and then add, “I’m Phillip’s brother.” If I am at an educator’s conference I would likely say my name and then add, either on my own or in response to the inevitable question, that I am the superintendent at Sunshine Bible Academy. And, over the past year, as a newcomer to South Dakota, I have been frequently been asked within the first few minutes of meeting new people, “Where are you from?”

If we look in the Bible, though, at the way that the writers of the New Testament epistles introduce themselves we find an approach quite unlike those described above. James starts his letter with, “James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (ESV). Notice James does not say, “James, half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ,” or “James, pastor of the largest church in Jerusalem.” Peter begins 1 Peter with, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” and 2 Peter with, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (ESV). Paul starts Philemon with, “Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ,” begins Titus with, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” and starts both 1 and 2 Timothy by referring to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. The same basic introduction is used in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians, too. 1 and 2 Thessalonians simply identify Paul, Silvanus and Timothy; there is no other qualification mentioned.

What is the point of all this? Quite simply this: we ought not think too highly of ourselves, our accomplishments or our positions (Romans 12:3). Those things should not define who we are. Who we are and what we have done is not nearly as important as WHOSE we are. That is the point that James, Peter and Paul were making. Any one of them could have rattled off titles, accomplishments, positions, and experiences that would have rivaled any we have heard in our churches, schools and civic gatherings, yet they chose to introduce themselves simply as servants of Jesus Christ.

Would that I too might remember that My God is more important than my grades, my Savior is more important than my salary, and the propitiation for my sins is far more valuable than the position I hold. I want this to be my introduction: “I am Jason Watson, a follower of Christ.”

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