By Brooke Holt
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” Romans 1:1
The Apostle Paul had quite a life! He was trained an elite Jewish scholar and was advancing well in the Pharisaical world. His identity was completely wrapped up in his religious beliefs and practices as he describes in his letter to the Philippians: “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). Paul was a man who knew who he was, what he was about, and what he was to do.
Despite all his certainty, Paul was going to have that identity shattered as he experienced the glory of the risen Lord Jesus. On his journey to Damascus to persecute Christians, Paul was knocked to the ground and struck blind. This powerful leader of the Jews had to be led by the hand into Damascus. By God’s grace, he sent a man named Ananias to pray for Paul (actually then called Saul) to be filled with the Holy Spirit. At that point, Paul’s vision was restored, and his life was radically changed. He went from Saul the persecutor to Paul the great evangelist to the Gentiles.
As Paul begins his letter to the Romans, he writes from his new identity: “a servant of Christ Jesus” (1:1). It was no longer about Paul’s pedigree, his training, or his religious affiliation; it was all about Jesus Christ and Paul’s relationship to him. Paul knew he had been called from his former identity to his current identity as he goes on to say, “called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (1:1).
As that one who had been called and set apart, Paul completely surrendered himself to the Lordship of Christ. The Lord directed Paul, empowered Paul, and most importantly defined Paul. Paul’s impact on the church as disciple was far greater than as persecutor! Isn’t it amazing what the Lord can do?
Paul’s identity shifted from himself to Jesus Christ. That is the call to each one of us – die to self and live unto Christ. As we do that, our identity also will shift from mother, theologian, doctor, banker, millionaire, etc. to “servants of Christ Jesus”. Jesus will direct our lives, empower us, and most importantly define us.
In this last week of Advent, are you willing to fully surrender to the baby born a king, the one who lived as one of us, died for our sins, and rose again to demonstrate his power over death, sin, and the evil of this world?
Where do you find your identity today – in your work, your roles, your money, or your Savior? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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