For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 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 in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me. – Galatians 1:11-24
Neither you nor I were set apart before we were born and called to be “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” However, we do have a parallel to the Apostle Paul. We were set apart before we were born and were called by God’s grace.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important Biblical truths for us to grasp.We are taught very little in our culture and, unfortunately, very little in many churches that really builds us up and strengthens us as human beings created in the image of God. When we come to grips as Christ followers that we were chosen to be Christ followers before the foundation of the world and set apart to God in our mother’s womb to be redeemed by the work of Christ and be conformed to the image of Christ, we have an identity that anchors us. We are redeemed children of God who have been forgiven of all of our trespasses (and some of us have some pretty horrendous trespasses) and sins and have an eternal hope of life with Christ both now and in the New Heavens and New Earth. I am at a loss to think of any truth that will do more to build me up as a human being and strengthen me more to live life with all of its challenges.
Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. He was also informed of how much he must suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus.
The first part of his mission sounds exciting and something many of us would like to possess as our own calling. Doesn’t that sound great, preaching to nations and heads of state? That would make you a pretty famous person in the eyes of many. Think Billy Graham.
The second part of his commission from Christ, not so much; “how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Can we pass on that part?
The truth is that our calling as ordinary unknown believers in Christ is much the same as that of Paul. We all have the same three commandments: Love God, love your neighbor and go, make disciples. What about the suffering part? Jesus made it clear, “in this world you will have tribulation.” None of us get to escape that entirely even though we may not be stoned and left for dead like Paul was.
Making disciples is not hard, but it is impossible. By that, I mean that we cannot in our human effort apart from the power of the Holy Spirit make disciples of Christ. Humanly it is impossible. But we are called to make disciples. Therefore, we are called to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to make disciples. We are called to do the impossible, therefore, pray.
The formula for making disciples is simple: pray, hang out with people and love them and bring Jesus into the relationship. Essentially, that’s it. The key is to be intentional about it. Do this on purpose. Have the names of a few people on your prayer list with whom you can hang out and share Jesus. Then, when they come to Christ, teach them to do the same thing. Now you are making a disciple who will also make disciples. How cool is that?