You know, I connect with Paul.
Paul had a non-traditional track into his ultimate role. Paul’s original plan in Judaism culminated with him becoming the “Jew of all Jews.” But God revealed Himself to Paul through Jesus Christ on the Road to Damascus, and the most unexpected, unpredictable thing happened. Paul not only became a Christian, but he was tasked by Jesus Christ Himself to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. By the way, the Jews considered Gentiles to be filthy animals! How would you like to get this type of surprise?
The people you hate are now your people.
Paul was an unexpected follower of Jesus. The first thing we learn about Paul is he is attacking the early church. Paul was viciously attacking the people who had trusted in Christ. Not only was he passionate, but he had a plan, and he had the backing of the High Priest. Paul is on his way to suppress Christianity when Jesus initiated contact with him. As part of Paul’s transformation, he lost his sight for three days. Paul was baptized and started preaching in Damascus. Just imagine if you were the high priest who permitted Paul to capture all the Christians and to bring them back in chains. Now Paul is one of them.
How would you feel if you had to lead the people you previously hated?
I like Paul’s leadership style. Paul met a lot of resistance, and there were significant trust issues in Jerusalem. God transformed Paul in only three days, but Paul was not immediately trusted. It took him over three years to be ready to ask the disciples in Jerusalem to trust him.
You can’t plant apple seeds in the evening and expect to be drinking apple juice for breakfast the next day.
Have you ever been questioned, criticized, or discredited? Specifically, what I am asking here is, have you ever been wrongly criticized or questioned? The truth is, in leadership, no good deed goes unpunished. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” There’s always going to be resistance when you are doing what is right.
Great leaders don’t find consensus; they create it.
Paul fought for the idea that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. That simple truth is also causing him to be questioned, criticized, and discredited. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith plus nothing. The critical part of this statement of doctrine is “plus nothing.” The problem with the Gospel is when you add to it; it is no longer the Gospel. When you place your faith in Christ, He becomes the object of your faith, and He saves you. You can’t lose your salvation, because it’s not yours to lose. Christ is the one who does the saving; it is His salvation of you.
The truth of the Gospel is simple but simple to mess up.
Paul’s new purpose was not to please people. Instead, his mission was to reach people. And that should be our goal as well. Andrew Murray said, “there are two kinds of Christians; soul-winners and backsliders.” God has a purpose for us. That’s why he did not kill us the moment he saved us. Our purpose is to reach people with the Gospel and make disciples.