Paul writes a brief synopsis of who he is. While giving one’s title is normal in a greeting, it is good to rehearse his story behind that. Often we neglect the back story. Our identity must be who we are in Christ. The identity is even more precious when we look at what God saved us from.
Paul hated Christians
This seems a bit odd that the most prolific writer of the New Testament persecuted the church he wrote for. While this happened prior to accepting Christ, Paul confidently thought what he was doing was what God wanted. Read 1 Timothy 1:3-7 and that piece of information will likely cause a laugh.
Jesus loved Paul
Jesus shows up, miraculously so, and Paul accepts Christ. Clearly persecuting Jesus was not love from a pure heart, clear conscience, and a sincere faith. This radically changed Paul’s course in life. But the story didn’t end there. Rather than having Paul as just a former persecutor of the church, God wanted Paul to be the most prolific speaker for the church. Here Jesus brings both clarity and beauty through the mess that was the Paul.
Paul pursues the messes
As Jesus pursued Paul who was a mess, Paul pursued the church of Ephesus which was a mess. Why? Paul is practically demonstrating a theological truth: Jesus came to save sinners and call us to repent. As we are not perfect until we see Jesus face to face, there is much work to be done to become more like him. Becoming more like Jesus makes us more effective in telling others about what Jesus did for us. It also helps us to leave a more centered and peaceful life.
Rehearse your story
You have a story too. Paul’s focus is on who he is NOW in Christ. He recognized who Jesus was to him and acted accordingly. So should we. Our relationship with Jesus is what most clearly defines us. It is truly the most rock solid place to have our identity. Remembering where we came form is important, but sharing and acting on who we are now in Christ is essential.
Journaling is a good tool to process what we are learning and going through. It is not about being right as much as processing. (Remember, we’ll be perfect when we see Jesus face to face. Until then, working towards being like Jesus is the goal!) Take time to journal your answers or ponder them:
What stands out to me about Paul’s life, how did he have the credibility to write 1 Timothy 1:3-7?
What does my story tell others about who God is or what Jesus is doing?
Am I afraid or ashamed of my story, and why? What would Jesus say about that?