“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.” [Galatians 1:11-24 NIV]
The only thing that can change a murderer into an apostle is the redemptive love of God. That's the story of Paul. A Pharisee so zealous for God that he tried to snuff out the early Christian church because he thought it was so offense to his God. But turns out he was the one who was getting it wrong. Not all of us were once murderers (at least I hope not), but we all were once lost. Paul might have been one of the most lost people to have ever been found and used by God, and despite his marred past he fully trusted in the forgiveness Jesus offered him and boldly shared his story.
Revelation 12:11 says, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” That’s God’s way of saying that we overcome Satan by the work of Jesus and remember what God has done in our lives. That means there is power in your testimony. Did you know that in Hebrew testimony literally means, “do it again”? God promises to repeat what God has done in your life in the lives of others. So as you go through life you get to offer your testimony to people and witness God heal them and deliver them in same way he did with you.
That’s what Paul is doing in this Galatians passage. He freely offered his story to people, and God used it to soften their hearts to the point of praising Him. And He did it in a way that gave God glory. He makes a point that he didn’t know the other apostles, because he wants his audience to know that he wasn’t anyone famous in terms of early Christianity. Peter and John and some of the others would’ve been well known. But as for Paul? People just knew he was that Pharisee who went off the rails and started murdering Christians. And it’s because he was so unrecognizable (in a good way) to the early church that people believed Jesus could do in them what He did in Paul. So ask yourself what your story with God is. What has God done in you that you need to share with people? If you feel like you don’t have a story, that’s simply not true. God has been writing your story for a long time and He’s just been waiting for you to realize it so you can start writing it together.
God, wow. Thank You that You choose to use me. Thank You that You looked at me and loved me and died for me despite my being everything that was against You. Lord, I ask that I will remember the power of my testimony. That in You, my story matters because who am I to say otherwise? Thank You, God. Use me, I am Yours. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.