This past Sunday evening I attended a service with someone at the East 7th Baptist Graffiti Church, and in the midst of the sermon preached about serving, something really stood out to me concerning the ministries of Peter and Paul.
I’ve known for some time about the “ministry to the Gentiles” and the “ministry to the Jews” that Paul mentions in Galatians 2:8, but when I looked at the lives of Paul and Peter, it really stood out to me that God flipped the script! Here’s the verse below:
“(for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),”
Galatians 2:8 NKJV
What this verse is basically saying is that God gave Paul and Peter a particular emphasis to serve these people groups, because they obviously ministered the gospel to everyone who would hear. It’s just that God gave them a burden and emphasis for specific reasons. This really stood out to me on Sunday because if you look at their lives, they wouldn’t have chosen these groups to serve if it wasn’t for God’s intervention.
Paul was a learned scholar, well taught in the Scriptures by the most well-known and respected rabbi at the time, Gamaliel. He even mentions this rabbi in Acts 22:3 when speaking to the Jews of his conduct before Christ. Living in the Greek-speaking city of Tarsus Paul would’ve been around Gentiles, or those not Jewish, but he wouldn’t really serve them in any significant way. In fact, he may have been stuck up concerning the unclean Gentiles.
In contrast to Paul, Peter was a fishermen who lacked the education that would afford him any kind of respect as a Jew in his community. Being a fisherman was a job that held little esteem. Even when Peter appeared before the Sanhedrin in Acts, the leaders knew they were unlearned men, yet they also knew that they had been with Jesus.
It is this same Jesus that gave Paul a ministry to the Gentiles as a scholarly Jew, and gave Peter a ministry to the Jews as an unlearned fisherman. They both were used to serve people groups that they would’ve never served otherwise.
Imagine being in that position, having God call you to do something that you’d never be qualified or willing to do. Yet God glorifies Himself by flipping the script on what is possible, and it works because He works effectively in anything that he does.
If God is calling you to serve in a way that you feel unqualified to serve in, I encourage you to press forward into that call, and receive the grace God has made available for you to do the work He is giving you to do.
To those who are the recipients of what God is doing in a person, do not overlook something because it doesn’t come in the package that you expected it to come in. God is not given to partiality, and we can miss the work God is doing when we are looking for things in a way that we’re comfortable with. May we all allow the Lord to continue to flip the script, so that we’ll be His workmanship in Christ Jesus.