“Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John—the pillars of the church—shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry with the non-Jews...”
— Galatians 2:7 (Msg)
Fourteen years after qualifying as an apostle of the Gospel of Christ Jesus Paul makes his second appearance before the apostles; first he was taken to Jerusalem by Barnabas who was the encourager having faith in God’s call of Paul; second it was the appearance before the council at Jerusalem – a potential loggerhead situation.
It is somewhat ironic, that, whilst Paul had the humility to submit to the authority of the council – among them James, Peter and John – he went on to be the most famous apostle. Paul was, in sporting terms, an MVP!
But Paul would not have always felt so assured in his role. Indeed, as it depended on others’ confidence in him, he must have had some significant doubts, notwithstanding the confidence placed in him by God.
This apostle of apostles had the worst of knockers; men of the church and recent converts, alike, who disdained Paul’s theology, his credibility, and even his motives.
God’s Truest Confirmation Comes to the Faithful Ones
How relieving it must have been for Paul to submit himself before the council at Jerusalem to be vindicated, and to be re-endorsed to carry on what he had so faithfully been doing.
We have the same opportunities, struggles, and doubts. We tend to listen to and believe those who disdain us over those who are better positioned and qualified to judge. We, like Paul, can be so overwhelmed by discouragement and fear.
When we know we were always destined to play a certain role, and when we get the green light to perform that role, we are released; our chains are loosened and they fall free.
Imagine a Paul, standing there as those council leaders deliberated. He stood there obediently, not proudly insisting they do what he says. And this is our challenge when we are challenged – to trust that God has this in his hand.
Being empowered for ministry is the happiest moment of our lives, because finally we can serve God as we have been called. When God’s confirmation comes we are just so thrilled at the prospect of serving him. It’s a great encouragement that even the Apostle Paul had to submit (to the council at Jerusalem). When we do this ministry for God, and not for self, submission is not hard.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.