The Emergence of an Apostle
The career of Paul in Jesus Christ came out of the ashes of the carefully planned life of Saul of Tarsus. What happened to Saul on the Damascus Road was a personal disaster. (Acts 9:1-30) His whole life lived to that point was destroyed. He came from money. Gone. He had a great relationship with the movers and shakers of his culture. Ruined. He had the best degree of education. Worthless. He had good health. Broken. His carefully made judgments about Jesus and the Christians. Wrong. All the self-justifications that Saul had wrapped around his violent life were refuted. His carefully thought out reasons for existence were smashed in a moment. When Saul tried to join with the Christians that he formerly had persecuted, he was sent away to Tarsus, his hometown, to face the disappointment and wrath of his family.
Saul, the violent persecutor of Jesus, was going to emerge from the fire of the Holy Spirit as Paul, the small, forged into a fine instrument of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would take years of training by Jesus and character shaping by the Holy Spirit. Paul would be totally broken to the will of God in Jesus Christ. Those whom he had formerly hated, he would love as his own soul. He would embrace Gentiles, whom he would not touch before. Then, he would totally submerge himself in the mission of Christ. Jesus was offering the redemption and transformation that He offered Paul to the whole world. Paul had received his new career. He would be the faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ. An Apostle.
The roots of thinking and ethics of Western Civilization came from a relatively few individuals. The Apostle Paul is prime among them. Saul of Tarsus would have ended up a ring-kissing functionary of the establishment in Jerusalem. The only memory of his words and deeds would be in the Judgment. How many of us would even be following Jesus if our life had gone without problems or personal failure? Sometimes we need to be forced out of our path, onto the path of the will of God. Jesus knew what was best for Saul of Tarsus. It was to become Paul the Apostle. It was for the ultimate benefit of Paul. To this present hour, Jesus knows what is best for all His servants. We must be refined before we are useful.