13 You have heard how I lived earlier in my Jewish way of life. With all my strength I attacked the church of God. I tried to destroy it. 14 I was moving ahead in my Jewish way of life. I went beyond many of my people who were my own age. I held firmly to the teachings passed down by my people. 15 But God set me apart from before the time I was born. He showed me his grace by appointing me. He was pleased 16 to show his Son in my life. He wanted me to preach about Jesus among the Gentiles. When God appointed me, I decided right away not to ask anyone for advice. 17 I didn’t go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem. I went there to get to know Peter. I stayed with him for 15 days. 19 I didn’t see any of the other apostles. I only saw James, the Lord’s brother. 20 Here is what you can be sure of. And God is even a witness to it. What I am writing you is not a lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 The members of Christ’s churches in Judea did not know me in a personal way. 23 They only heard others say, “The man who used to attack us has changed. He is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
Everybody loves to hear about an amazing over-achiever. At the moment, I am reading a book about a secular entrepreneur named Elon Musk, who founded PayPal, Tesla Cars and also Space-X. Paul the Apostle was even more amazing, but similarly, used the technology of his day to its absolute limit and thought completely outside the box to literally re-write the political and religious systems of the day.
For me, there is a danger though of looking with wonder at an over-achiever. I can idolise their drive, skill, talent and achievements, and I can feel inadequate by comparison. If I am not careful, I also start to tell myself that these over-achievers are “made of different stuff” from the rest of humanity.
But the truth is that this is contrary to so much of what the bible actually teaches. In particular the teaching of Jesus:
– That we will do greater things that even he did as he walked the earth.
– That in order to be great, we must make ourselves humble
– That the first will be last and the last will be first
– That of all the achievements we can have, love is the one most valued by God
In our world of efficiency and productivity, goals and outcomes, stardom and fame, it is actually really easy to start to see ourselves the way that the world sees us, rather than the way that God sees us.
From my reflections this morning, I will continue to read the Elon Musk biography, but I will also continue to strive to see myself through God’s eyes rather than those of the world. I will seen my inspiration from the Holy One rather than an idol.
Lord, thankyou for your revelation and the identity that you bring.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware