Who am I?
What defines us? For me, it could be my relationships as a daughter, friend, wife or mom. It could be my accomplishments or an occupation such as a teacher or writer. My emotions and circumstances may also try to dictate who I am at times.
Paul knew emphatically who he was. In fact, in most of the Epistles in the New Testament including Ephesians, he began with a similar greeting to the churches: “Paul, an apostle of Christ by the will of God” (Ephesians 1:1).
An apostle is a New Testament term used specifically to describe the twelve disciples plus Paul – someone sent on the authority of Jesus himself to preach the Gospel. Paul was a messenger sent to bear good news.
Paul could have promoted his pedigree. After all he had been known as the best of the best – a Hebrew of Hebrew; an accomplished student of Jewish theology (Philippians 3:4-6; Acts 22:3).
Paul could have fixated on his past casting a shadow on who he was. He was previously known as the worst of the worst to the early church – a ringleader so to speak for the persecution of Christians (Acts 8:3, Acts 22:4-5).
Paul could have lost perspective from the walls of a prison cell (Ephesians 3:1) and allowed his circumstances to define him.
Yet, Paul remained laser focused on who God said he was – an ambassador of Christ.
As he greeted the church in the Epistles and throughout his writing, he continued to call attention to the One who had called him.
As for his pedigree, Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
As for his past, Paul had been changed by his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9). “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”(Philippians 1:21).
As for his perspective, Paul declared, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:12-14).
Paul did not waiver.
Let’s face it. That’s not easy. The world says accomplishments and titles matter. Our past haunts us and overshadows all that Jesus has done in our life. And, our current circumstances and emotions alter our perspective. We become easily distracted and forget who God says we are.
As the world tries to define us, our past reminds us, and our present deters us, ask this question: Who am I? As a believer, we are first and foremost children of God (Romans 8:16). As Paul reminded the faithful believers, we are saints, hagious in Greek - set apart from the world and made holy in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:1).
What do you allow to define you?
How do you stay focused on who God says you are?
Lord, I confess that I get distracted at times and allow other things to define who I am. Help me to keep my eyes on you and who you say I am. Speak your truth to my heart through your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash