“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Luke 23:50-51 (NIV)
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve, but we serve the same Lord. And there are different ways that God works in people, but it is the same God who works in all of us to do everything.” 1 Corinthians 12 vs. 4 – 6 (ERV)
There were 3 persons waiting for the kingdom of God (for the consolation of Israel), according to the Gospel of Luke. One was waiting in his house, an old man and full of grey hair (Luke 2 vs. 25 – 28). The other was fasting and praying daily in the temple, an aged woman who had lost her husband early in life (Luke 2 vs. 36 – 38). The last one was busy in the marketplace, doing business, making money, and gaining influence (Luke 23 vs. 50 – 53). For these three people, heaven bore record that they were waiting for God’s kingdom and consolation. This gives us the tripartite stories of Simeon the Just, Anna the Prophetess, and Joseph of Arimathea- all waiting for the kingdom of God, but in different styles and with different rules.
If we are asked in our religious minds to picture a man waiting for God’s kingdom, we would preferably cite the old woman who spent her days fasting and praying, and would have seen the one doing business and making money as a carnal and worldly brother.
This is the challenge I want to pose to us today as we look at the life of the Arimathean. We always tend to judge (with our little brains) what a spiritual life should look like. The man who does nothing but sits down to read his Bible (day and night) and spend hours praying and speaking in tongues is considered more spiritual than the one who has to go out and do business and make some money. However, when after praying and getting visions from God, it’s time to carry the visions out, we naturally fall back on the rich brother.
This is one thing we need to realize- there are so many ways to serve the same Lord. There are so many ways the same God works in the lives of His children. It shows a lack of knowledge of God when we insist that it must be this way or that way, otherwise it is not God. Every one of us is running our own races, and each race has its own rules. The rules and regulations guiding my race may be different from yours. Hence, judging your life by my own, may lead you into unholy bliss or condemnation.
Even after the Arimathean became a disciple of Jesus, there was something different about his discipleship as compared to that of Peter, James, and John. The discipleship of Peter, James and John demanded that they left their businesses and follow Jesus without reservations, but Joseph of Arimathea, while still a disciple of Jesus continued to make money and do his business and walk in his circles of influence. Yes, though we must accept that to some extent his fear of the Jews affected his level of openness about his discipleship; but who he was, how he operated, and the influences around his life, were just handy when the Lord needed them most.
What am I saying in essence, brethren? We all do not have the same race; we all do not have the same rules. Yes, there are certain rules common to all races (and we will talk about them later), but it is important to note that the rules that will govern our lives will be tied to our destiny and to what God wants to do with us. It is not up to you to choose what you want. Remember it was written concerning you in the volume of the book. You do not choose whether you will be a Simeon or an Anna, or an Arimathean. That choice is forced upon you by the Sovereign hand of God. All you need to do is discover what your race is, discover what God is bidding you do, and go in the line of your assignment, not being envious or jealous of how God is using others.
It is your race, and it is your rules. Live it. Run it. Achieve it.