2 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem. This time I went with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went because God showed me what he wanted me to do. I told the people there the good news that I preach among those who aren’t Jews. But I spoke in private to those who seemed to be leaders. I was afraid that I was running or had run my race for nothing. 3 Titus was with me. He was a Greek. But even he was not forced to be circumcised. 4 That matter came up because some who pretended to be believers had slipped in among us. They wanted to find out about the freedom we have because we belong to Christ Jesus. They wanted to make us slaves again. 5 We didn’t give in to them for a moment. We wanted the truth of the good news to remain with you. 6 Some people in Jerusalem seemed to be important. It makes no difference to me what they were. God does not judge by what he sees on the outside. Those people added nothing to my message. 7 In fact, it was just the opposite. They saw that I had been trusted with the task of preaching the good news just as Peter had been. My task was to preach to the non-Jews. Peter’s task was to preach to the Jews. 8 God was working through Peter as an apostle to the Jews. He was also working through me as an apostle to the non-Jews. 9 James, Peter and John are considered to be pillars in the church. They recognized the special grace that was given to me. So they shook my hand and the hand of Barnabas. They wanted to show they accepted us. They agreed that we should go to the non-Jews. They would go to the Jews. 10 They asked only one thing. They wanted us to continue to remember poor people. That was what I really wanted to do anyway.
This passage reminds me of the importance of recognised leadership in my life, and in the life of the church. And I am helped greatly by Paul’s view of things.
Paul clearly is not awestruck into seeing these leaders as some kind of superspecies, but he obeyed God’s revelation to him that told him to seek them out in order to confirm that all he was doing for the Gospel was not in vain. And those recognised as leaders in the church helped confirm and affirm what Paul was doing, such that he would have left in his missionary endeavours with new vigour, confidence, and backing from the larger church.
Sometimes, I find myself confused about what I’m doing. Sometimes, I find myself unsure if what I’m doing is “in vain.” God clearly directed Paul, the apostle, in one of his such moments, to recognised leaders in the church, who helped him along his way. I must take note to do the same. I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. Nor does everything have to come via direct revelation from God. Recognised leadership plays an important role in the guidance and affirmation of my efforts and calling.
God, help me not to isolate myself from great wisdom, encouragement, and support in the recognised leadership around me, especially if I am concerned that what I’m doing or where I’m going is “in vain.”
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh