Paul & the Early Church
Social media relationship statuses go something like this: Single, Engaged, Married, and there is always “It’s Complicated.”
Paul claimed the title of Apostle like Peter, Andrew, John, and hey, what about Mary Magdalene? But Paul, who used to be Saul? No. While he had the right name. He was somebody. He was a Roman Citizen. He had an education. But he had a past. Persecutor. He agreed for Stephen to be stoned to death. After all that he called himself an Apostle. It’s complicated.
Jesus had other plans for Saul who would become Saul. Some call it conversion. That story in Acts 9 reminds us a LOT of hearts and minds had to be changed, including Ananias, who was to be Saul/Paul’s mentor.
For the Church to move forward, it needed someone to take the Message on the road, and with that plan came a new name. That happened a lot in the Bible. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter.
A new name means a new identity and a new future. You don’t have to change your name and go into witness protection. Paul reminds us your baptism into Jesus means you are not chained to past mistakes. You are marked with Jesus’ Cross, calls you his kid, and has a plan for you. Your status always says, “Chosen and Loved.” It’s not that complicated.
Marked with the Cross of Christ,