A Proud Heritage

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more... Philippians 3:4

From Guest Blogger Amy Cox:

I can proudly say I am royalty, or at least that’s what a Norwegian cousin tells me. According to his genealogical research our ancestor is the first Christian King of Norway. Now that king had several wives and even more children, so our claim to royalty probably isn’t all that unique, but still, it’s something isn’t it?

In the grand scheme of things my Norwegian royal heritage isn’t much to brag about, but Paul had real reasons to be proud. Born of the tribe of Benjamin, he followed the law blamelessly (Philippians 3:4-6) and like his ancestors became an exceedingly zealous Pharisee (Acts 23:3-6). Paul was a model Jew, but by birth he was also a Roman citizen.

Paul’s Jewish heritage and Roman citizenship, along with his conversion to Christianity, helped propel him to Rome. Saved from a murderous crowd by Jerusalem’s Roman guard Paul was initially accused of being an Egyptian false prophet who led a bloody, but unsuccessful, anti-Roman revolt. Paul’s revelation that he was a Jew from Tarsus (Acts 21:39) bought temporary safety. Then, as the Romans prepared to interrogate him by flogging, Paul revealed he was a Roman citizen subject to Roman law and entitled to its more humane protections. (Acts 22:24-28) Eventually his citizenship carried him all the way to Rome, the political and cultural heart of the Empire, where he preached the Gospel boldly (Acts 28:31).

God leveraged Paul’s uncommon heritage in ways unparalleled in the history of the early church. He took a man whose birth and training perfectly positioned him to persecute Christians, as in fact Paul had done, and turned him into a champion for Christ. And to make matters worse, at least from the perspective of Jewish authorities, God sent Paul to the “undeserving” Gentiles, including the Romans (Acts 23:11). Ultimately it wasn’t Paul’s Jewish heritage or his Roman citizenship that really mattered, it was his relationship with Christ that empowered him to follow God into dangerous and uncharted territory. Paul’s story shows that it’s not who we are that really matters — what matters most is whose we are.

In what unique position has God placed you? What connections and experiences give you an opportunity to share Christ? How might you display your uncommon faith in your context?

Prayer: Father, help me to see how you’ve specially positioned me to share the Gospel with those around me. Let me be a willing servant and ambassador, empowered by Your love and grace. Amen.

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