|God respects purity of heart|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Jul 19, 2012
Some apostles are known for their bravery, others for their boldness and some for their meek and mild mannerisms but Christians can learn an invaluable lesson in truth and integrity from the disciple who stood out from the others for his pure and honest nature — Bartholomew.
Of all Jesus’ disciples — Peter, Philip, Matthew, Andrew, James the Greater, James the Lesser, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Jude (Thaddeus), Simon and Judas Iscariot (replaced by Matthias) — Bartholomew was the only one Jesus noted as being an honest and true man upon first meeting him. This proclamation alone set this apostle aside and makes him an example of what Christians should aim to be like according to Father Hugh Bartlett, priest-in-charge at St. Anne’s Anglican Church.
“Not much is known of Bartholomew, but what is known, the Christian today can glean a great lesson from,” said Fr. Bartlett. “Whenever you read about Bartholomew who is also assumed to be named Nathanael according to the Gospel of John, you find he is often associated with Philip. It was the Apostle Philip who takes Bartholomew or Nathaniel to Jesus. And before meeting Christ he is noted to have asked the famous question, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ This question may be bold and assuming, but it also spoke depths because Nazareth was not just a location but in some ways it also meant something bad.”
But even with the question being the first thing on Bartholomew’s mind when he is told of Jesus, the priest said the words that Jesus greeted Bartholomew with said there was more to the man than an inquisitive and blunt nature. Jesus said to Nathaniel that he was a true Israelite where there truly is no deception. Jesus told Bartholomew that He knew him before he met him and had seen him beneath a fig tree. And without further provocation or reason, Nathaniel proclaimed Christ as Lord and savior.
“From this the Christian can learn about being forthright and speaking what’s on their mind,” said Fr. Bartlett. “Bartholomew is identified by Jesus as someone who is honest and does what is right. He is also one of the first people who recognized Jesus as Lord. And although this is one of the only times we see Nathanael (Bartholomew) in this one instance we can learn as Christians that we too ought not be persons deceptive in our communications when it need be said. We always have to temper honesty with discretion. Don’t be a mischief-maker or gossip. But when asked for an opinion speak up and be honest.”
Reverend Eileen Johnson, national youth pastor at the Church of God said Christians can learn to be true followers of Christ like Bartholomew was and never deny the Gospel.
“History notes that Bartholomew played a pivotal part in the extension of the Gospel. He preached in India as well as Armenia because of his insistence on sharing God’s word with those who did not believe or even want to believe. He [Bartholomew] was crucified with his head downward in a mockery to his Lord and savior Jesus Christ, but before things escalated to this he willingly took the persecution that came with being a follower of Christ and this is something all Christians should aim to do,” said Rev. Johnson.
She said that it is important to represent God like Bartholomew did in every regard — be it on the job, in the home, neighborhood, communities or political platform. And to not worry about being politically correct. According to the minister, it is essential for believers to share God’s word wherever they are and not be afraid even if they are far from home.
Bishop Sheldon Newton, senior pastor at Jesus Christ Centered Ministries International said much like Bartholomew, Christians should aim to be pure of heart and free of hypocrisy in their hearts, minds and souls. He said the apostle whom not much is know of, is known to be special because of his pure-heartedness.
“This is gift and virtue Christians should aim to have. Jesus recognized the purity in Bartholomew and praised him for it. And Bartholomew in return saw Jesus for who He really was and proclaimed it. Jesus further blessed him by saying that because of his nature he would surely see the son of God and the angels ascending and descending.”
Bishop Newton said that from Bartholomew, believers can see that God respects purity of heart and because of this they should aim to also be people who live without pretense — the way God wants His followers to be. And even if it is a hard task to separate themselves from the world’s vices, he said Christians should try nonetheless.
Over the next five weeks The Nassau Guardian will engage a number of ministers of religion on the topic of the 12 disciples. They will examine each one and talk about who these men were and what the twenty-first century Christian can learn from their lives and legacy.