For those familiar with the basic background of Paul, please feel free to skip the first paragraph below.
One of the most prolific writers of the Bible was the apostle Paul. He began his life as Saul the Jew. He was a devout Jew with an in depth education, especially of the Old Testament and Jewish commentaries. In the book of Acts, we find out that he was a major proponent of persecuting Christians and putting them to death. He saw their religion as a heresy of Judaism to be squashed. To him, this “Christianity” was an abomination to God. But, in Acts 9, we learn that this Saul, while heading to Damascus, was confronted by Jesus. This encounter changed Saul forever, causing him to become a devout Christian and renouncing Judaism for the rest of his life. It was at this point that his name was changed to Paul and he was appointed by God as an apostle to spread the gospel to everyone, particularly to the Gentiles. To Christians today, he stands forth as a shining an example of what a Christian is.
But, the aspect of his life on which I want to focus today comes from Romans 1:14-16. These verses state: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” What we find when we read his writings and see his actions in the book of Acts is a dedicated man who loves God, loves people, and loves to serve. What we see in Romans 1:14-16 is a man who knew his responsibility, as one saved by God, to teach others God’s word. But, he didn’t simply do it out of obligation. Rather, as a servant who loved his Master (God), he humbly and lovingly submitted to the commands of his Master. In this, he sought to reach each and every person he could. He didn’t care who your parents were, what you looked like, who you knew, what you owned, how you treated him, or anything else: he would teach you about God and pray for you. This he did because of his deep love for souls.
And it’s this love for souls upon which I was thinking recently. Do you realize that much of the reason Paul did what he did was because he wanted to see YOU in Heaven. He wanted to meet YOU. He wanted to spend time with YOU. He wanted to together worship and serve God in Heaven for eternity. YOU who he never even met. YOU who has committed sin*. YOU who some likely mistreat and cast down verbally, physically, or otherwise. YOU who may not always feel worthy of God’s love. This man spent decades preaching, being abused, suffering hardships, writing hard rebukes to Christians living in sin, and enduring many things. He did it because he cared about every single soul he encountered and every soul who would come after his generation. Don’t get me wrong: (1) he is not deity, (2) he is not sinless, (3) he is not to be held above any other human (1 Corinthians 4:6). Yet, isn’t encouraging that not only does God love you in spite of your flaws and hardships, but so does this man. This man is now among those great cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews 12:1.
It is encouraging and humbling to think of all this man sacrificed and did on my behalf, without ever knowing me or anything about me. It reminds me, that while he does want to meet me, I must also love God and people and spread the gospel to souls everywhere I go. And it should remind you, that while he wants to meet YOU, you must first obey the gospel (read Romans 10:17, Luke 13:3, Matthew 10:32-33, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:15-16) to become a Christian and then live faithfully unto death (Revelation 2:10).
I hope you want to meet the apostle Paul as I do. But, that means we both need to obey our God as Paul did. Let me encourage: obey God from the heart with all your being (read Matthew 22:37-39).
* Barring those not of a mental capability to have commit sins (e.g., young children, mentally handicapped persons, etc).