Paul, Calling, Servanthood, and Apostleship

Our journey through the New Testament takes us through Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon.

Just starting with Romans 1:1, I am struck by how Paul describes himself.

A Slave
Many translations say “servant” or “bondservant.” The word can also mean “slave.” He is shackled to his Savior in service. “Slave” isn’t a very safe word in our modern world, but it is a necessary word. Paul knew he was not just in a volunteer proposition where he would be able to negotiate obedience. He had Christ as his Master. When the Master gave the command, he would be the one to respond as obediently as possible.

An Apostle
He also knew his authority. He would describe himself as one called “out of season,” but he knew he was called. He was driven in that call. The gospel was to be preached. As a Jew, he also realized the Lord had called him to the Gentiles. It was all new territory. Yet, that is often in the role of an apostle. They set new paths. They head into previously unmarked territory.

Set Apart
Paul was different. There are people who are different. They are hearing things on a different frequency. Paul was that way. Most of us hear noises and sounds around us, but there are some who hear at a different range and can pick up things. Most of us as believers will do good to read the Word, pray, learn to discern as best we can, and life in Christ is good. Then, there are others who are on a different wavelength. They have opened up their lives to God in a more intense way, and the Spirit seems to direct in a way that, quite frankly, most others just don’t understand.

I have a missionary hero I only got to know when he was retired from missions work. He wasn’t retired from prayer. The man was addicted to prayer. You could ask that man, “What is God doing in the world today?” and he would be able to tell you. He was on a different frequency.

Early on in his missions career, the Lord had called him to radical trust. In our denomination, missionaries raise their own support. They spend four years on the field and come home for a year of itineration. They are supposed to book church services and go like maniacs during that year raising more support. This missionary came home one furlough and the Spirit directed him to simply pray. If he would give his life to prayer, he would not lack for a service. He never made a phone call that year to ask for a service, and he was busy every Sunday of the furlough.

When the Lord told him to fast and pray, he didn’t negotiate for how long or what kind of fast. He simply started fasting and would go until the Spirit told him to stop. Church leaders actually tried to get him to stop that because they were concerned for his health. I think they should have been concerned with other things.

Set apart.

WE are set apart, or we are supposed to be. Set apart from this world. We are called to follow Jesus and by virtue of that call, we should be as odd to this world as that missionary was to most of the church. When we follow Christ, our cues are simply coming from another direction… or they should.

I pray for courage to be truly SET APART.

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