Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1, 6
We begin our journey through Romans with the first verse — not really the first verse but the man behind the verse — “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…”
Paul reveals two things about himself.
- He sees himself as a servant of Christ Jesus.
- He sees himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus — to share the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
It’s worth noting Paul’s description of himself is based solely on his relationship with Jesus. He can think of himself in no other terms. He was a servant of Jesus. He was an apostle of Jesus. He had been set apart by God to share the story of God’s salvation. In other words, Paul’s identity was found in and through his relationship with Jesus Christ.
We do well to remember Paul’s former life outside of Christ. He was the preeminent leader of those who directed their angry attacks against the followers of Jesus. He was one who went from house to house, synagogue to synagogue, and city to city on a search and destroy mission. He was the one described as “breathing out murderous threats” against those who testified Jesus as their Messiah.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Paul had a new identity. What happened? If you asked Paul his answer would be quite simple. Using his own words:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, then to more than five hundred brothers, then to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. I Corinthians 15:3-9.
Paul had seen the risen Savior and the ruling Lord! And with that, he gave his life to him in humble service. He had a new relationship. Now he belonged to Jesus. From one estranged to one embraced, Paul found his truest identity in belonging completely and wholly to his Savior. To personalize Paul’s own words, “I am not my own, for I was bought with a price” (I Cor. 6:19).
Do you find your truest identity in your relationship with Jesus? Is he what your life is all about? Do you belong wholly and completely to him? Is this the song of your life?
Jesus, my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow'r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul;
Now I belong to Him;
Once I was lost in sin's degradation,
Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame,
Now I belong to Him;
Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me
His precious blood, He came to redeem,
Now I belong to Him—
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.
~Norman J. Clayton