“And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ”
And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.
The churches of Judea, as distinguished from the church in Jerusalem, did not know Paul by sight because he ministered elsewhere. Paul mentions this to answer the accusation of the legalists who say that the churches in Judea taught him the gospel. The point of recounting these events from his life is to show that He got his message from God and not from the apostles who preceded him. Paul was “unknown by face” to the churches of Judea. They only heard of his conversion from afar.
There is a temptation to thrust new Christians into the limelight, especially if they are celebrities. The churches of Judea did not carry out a media campaign about Paul’s conversion: “Come hear a murderer turned Christian!” They did not capitalize on his conversion. Instead, they waited for his spiritual maturation. God takes years to build a great oak.
God takes time to develop leadership in the church.
The Bible puts a premium on qualified leadership (1 Timothy 3:1f). One of several qualifications listed in this passage in Timothy is that a leader should not be a novice” (3:6). When we thrust new Christians into leadership, we stunt their spiritual growth. Although someone may have impeccable business qualifications and business leadership, the Christian maturity to lead may still be lacking.
We do not put novices in leadership lest they be lifted up with “pride.” There is a special vulnerability toward pride in new Christians. “I must be important to this church since they put me on the board after being a Christian such a short time,” they may think. Pride is one of the main reasons the Lord bypasses certain people.
New Christians need time for God to chisel, sand and polish them for ministry. Our society makes sure that we train our medical doctors. We send them to university for their academic training; then, we put them into an internship program so that they can practice. We want them to practice under the supervision of a competent doctor. New believers also need training and internship so that those mature believers can nurture them along.
It is easy to get sidetracked while God prepares us for a mission. We must keep our eye on the vision. It is easy to fix our eyes on something lucrative or self-serving. But we must not let the Devil get us on a tangent.