Saturday 4 February, 2017
2 Then after fourteen years, 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 spoke in private to those who are respected as leaders. I told them the good news that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t running my race for no purpose. And I wanted to know that I had not been running my race for no purpose. 3 Titus was with me. He was a Greek. But even he was not forced to be circumcised. 4 This matter came up because some people had slipped in among us. They had pretended to be believers. 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 did this so that the truth of the good news would be kept safe for you. 6 Some people in Jerusalem were thought to be important. But it makes no difference to me what they were. God does not treat people differently. Those people added nothing to my message. 7 In fact, it was just the opposite. They recognized the task I had been trusted with. It was the task of preaching the good news to the Gentiles. My task was like Peter’s task. He had been trusted with the task of preaching to the Jews. 8 God was working in Peter as an apostle to the Jews. God was also working in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Peter and John are respected as pillars in the church. They recognized the special grace 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 Gentiles. 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 had wanted to do all along.
Paul continues to describe himself to the Galatians. This is Paul’s long, hard road. Without apology, he has a unique mission field, like Peter has a unique mission field – notice how he submits wholly to the Jerusalem church leadership. They bless Paul, they bless his work – “only in whatever you do, don’t forget the poor.”
Two Christian spiritual pillars become obvious to me from the passage: calling and fellowship. What is my calling? Where is my fellowship? Both need to be clear to every Christian person.
The latter (fellowship) is Paul paying respects to his brothers and sisters in Jerusalem – sharing his vision and being accountable. It is us meeting for church on purpose, it is Christians relating to each other authentically. It is me being connected to my church, knowing this well, and, calling it as it is: ‘my’ church.
The former (calling) is Paul’s special mission. It is also each one of us recognising we form a body of diverse parts and then respecting the difference of each member (see 1 Cor 12:12ff). It is you and I seeking God and discovering our broad spectrum of talents together in community. It is me being patient, ready to hear a unique prompting from God to step into something a little different than before.
Dear Lord, may my road like Paul’s, never deviate from you (your community, your plan) for want of attention or lack of focus. Strengthen your holy fellowship and heavenly calling in my life. Today, tomorrow and beyond, Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart
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