What do you think of when you think of the apostle Paul? Some think of a great leader in the early church. Others think of a great missionary who brought the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. Still others think of Paul as a great defender of the faith who helped to keep order in the early church. However, there is something that we are missing if we think of him as merely a great leader, missionary, or defender of the faith. Let me explain.
Paul had a different way of thinking about himself. Paul did not think of himself in relation to what he did for the church, as many of us do. Rather, Paul thought of himself in terms of his relationship with God. Paul constantly reminds the readers of his epistles that he was "singled out" for God's good news. Paul did not define himself by how many churches he planted. Rather, it was his relationship with God, his being "singled out" to be a servant of Christ, that provided the basis by which he defined himself.
I wonder how different our lives would be if we chose to do the same thing. I wonder how different things would be if Christians would stop basing their identity on what they have done or not done, but rather would base it on our relationship with Christ.
If you are living in a relationship with Christ, God has pursued you with His grace. You have therefore been "singled out". God has a plan for you! He has a purpose for your life, and there is a reason that he has singled you out. He wants you to be an effective witness. This is difficult, if not impossible, if we do not draw our identity from our relationship with Him instead of from our status, position, or actions here. One of the benefits of being a Christian is that we can look to God. The world cannot do this. So, instead of looking to the world or to ourselves for our identity, let's turn to God and understand ourselves in relation to Him.