“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1)
When people ask who you are, how do you respond? Your occupation? Your status? Although these things are good, we too often find our identity, worth, and meaning in our careers, relationships, and success, which can all falter and leave us empty. The world constantly cries out to us that we will be unsatisfied if we do not find our dream job or find that significant other that loves us. The world is wrong!
In the first words of his letter to the Romans, Paul does not identify himself by his accomplishments. Rather, he proclaims his identity in Christ. This is not a status that aims to bring himself glory, but one which reflects the true power, sovereignty, grace, love, and glory of our God. It is rooted in a faithful God, not in fickle circumstances.
Paul first identifies himself as a servant—a slave!—of Christ Jesus, seeking to glorify him alone and do his will. Paul then proclaims he is called to apostleship by the Lord. All authority and boldness given to him were solely due to God’s grace and work in his life. Nothing made him deserve this calling—it was for the glory of Christ!
Finally, Paul declares he was set apart by the grace of God, even before he was born (Galatians 1:15) for the gospel of God. This glorious gospel is the Good News of what God has accomplished through Christ Jesus to reconcile lost, wretched, and undeserving people to himself. Christ lived a perfect life, took upon himself the punishment and wrath we deserve for our sins, laying down his own life for his sheep, so that by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ, we are declared righteous in God’s sight—all for God’s glory.
Let’s follow Paul’s example, and find our true identity in Christ and the gospel of God—to God’s glory, not our own. Rest in the fact that our fleeting efforts do not determine our worth; rather, our acceptance was secured by Christ on the cross, by a faithful God! All that we are is because of God’s grace and mercy – let’s rejoice in that!