Galatians 1:13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it… 15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles… 20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
As we’ve been reading through Paul’s letters in the New Testament it’s astounding how much time he spent defending himself against doubters/accusers/persecutors. This passage is another example.
The fact he once persecuted Christians in Jerusalem meant people there didn’t trust him and likely weren’t buying the news he had done a 180 to preach the gospel. Not only that, Paul wasn’t trained in Jerusalem by the apostles there. He didn’t receive their stamp of approval before preaching to the Gentiles and starting churches. Paul indicated he was taught and authorized by Christ directly, which would have raised the eyebrows of many.
Paul was indeed a strange candidate to become an apostle.
Yet an apostle he was. The power of the Spirit working through him, the fruit of the ministries he started, the authority and clarity with which he taught the faith were undeniable. Today we have FAR more writings from Paul, an unconventional servant of the Lord, than any of the other apostles – including those who learned at Jesus’ feet.
God’s work through Paul gives me hope that the Lord can use me. And you. As unconventional as we may be. We don’t need the perfect background or resume to be used by Christ for his glory. Let’s remember that today.