“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 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.” Galatians 1:15-16 ESV
Most of us are aware of the legacy and life the Apostle Paul lived. To some degree, the scripture also sheds light into his religious background. He was born into the Pharisee sect, which meant he not only walked in legalism but was extremely knowledgeable of the entire Old Testament which was at the time, divided in sections: Torah (Law), Prophets and Poetry. He was highly intelligent, had utmost fear and respect not only among his peers, but by all who knew him (or of him), and had such influence even in the death of Stephen. (Philippians 3:3-6, Acts 7:57).
Upon his conversion to The Way (Acts 9:2,18) or what we now call Christianity (Acts 11:26), the Lord became Paul’s teacher. Jesus began revealing Himself to Paul in a deeply intimate way.
As Paul’s story unfolded in the scripture, we get to realize that the Lord was not just concerned about Paul’s salvation. Sure, that was good but that was not the end all. Christ was concerned about the saving of the Gentiles (outcasts) as well, and by extension, the entire world. In His omniscience, He knew he was able to use Paul as a vessel to accomplish this purpose. Sure, there had been the disciples and apostles who had walked, talked and ate with Jesus, but the mission of Paul was exceedingly great, and the Lord knew He could count on Paul to obey.
A cursory glance of New Testament will show that nearly two-thirds of the books there were written by the Apostle Paul (whether directly by hand or through dictation). In each of these writings flow the common theme – He wants Jesus to be revealed. His desire is that the reader and those whom He encounter would come to know Jesus as Lord.
As I pondered on this I was convicted. Paul an elite in his thinking considered himself nothing, dung even (Philippians 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 4:13). He was cognizant of his background, his accolades and accomplishments. He embraced his nationality and had keen awareness of his social standings. When he summed it all up though, he viewed them as nothing.
Just now as I write this Holy Spirit has brought to mind a verse that has resonated with the depths of my being for a long time.
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:10 ESV
How convicting again, yet consoling this is for me all at the same time.
As I think of all Paul experiences post conversion, He expressed to us one of his deepest desire, to share in the suffering of Christ.
Who wants to suffer much less suffer like Christ? Who wants to become like Him in His death? Go ahead, raise your hand if that’s you. I know I did when I felt holy and righteous; when I felt I was walking under His banner of invincibility.
I remember praying to Him this specific prayer over and over, during different stages of my life. “Lord, I want to know You intimately. I want to share in Your sufferings. I want to have deep fellowship with You.”
Well, He’s answered and I guarantee you, it is not how I envisioned.
As I shared in a recent post, my work environment has become incredibly stressful. It has become so difficult and filled with daily frustrations that many mornings I get up with dread. I have found myself crying about going to work and crying after I’ve left work. Today marks 12 years since I’ve been employed with this organization. The thought of this for me has been sadly more bitter than sweet.
“Why Lord?” I groan.
I want to leave this place of employment. I want to tell them to take their job and well, you know. But more than anything, I want Jesus to be glorified and I want Him to tell me just what to do.
So, through His prompting I set out to seek Him and won’t stop until He delivers me through another employer or tell me it’s time to look elsewhere or, give me daily grace to hang in there indefinitely.
In this seeking for answers, He led me to Paul and this is what He downloaded to my heart this morning.
My trials are to cause Jesus to be revealed in me. You see, Jesus entered my life when I invited Him in my heart at the time of salvation but because my life had been so marred by the grease and grime of sin, He continues to use sanctification to clean and polish the glass of my heart so that eventually, others can see Jesus.
Sanctification for me occurs not just in happy times of seeing His hands, but through experiencing life’s challenges and difficulties; it occurs through hardships and here we go, suffering. It is during these times that I really get to see (or should see) His heart revealed and others gets to see His love being revealed in me.
Christ’s chief end is to reveal Himself in me. For me to completely die so that He alone remains living.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The question therefore is, how can we glorify God if we are not in the position where His Son is being revealed? How can we enjoy Him if we don’t fellowship with Him through suffering or the denial of ourselves?
We enjoy our friends, spouses, children when we are of the same mindset. We reflect a truly happy family unit when we can bond without hindrances despite our differences. I’d like to think of bonding with our Father in a similar vein. We enjoy Jesus when we are walking in harmony with Him. He is revealed only when we surrender everything to Him. When we say, nevertheless not my will but thy will be done.
So for today, I will rejoice that in this period of hardship, His faithfulness and compassion is being revealed. He gets to prune me of my defiant will some more. He gets to remind me that I can do nothing, go nowhere unless He gives the order. I am forced to continue looking to Him, for only He is my rock and stay.
Lord, do what You will so Jesus can be revealed.
Until next time, I love you, I am praying for you and ask that you pray for me too.🌺
Remember, His Promises are our Guarantee…🙌🏽