“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 physical sight because he ministered elsewhere. Paul mentions this to answer the legalists’ accusation that the churches in Judea taught him the gospel of grace. The point of recounting these events from his life is to show that He obtained 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 His 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” (1 Ti 3:6). When we thrust new Christians into leadership, we stunt their spiritual growth. Although someone may have impeccable business qualifications and leadership, they may still lack the Christian maturity to lead believers.
Pride is one of the main reasons the Lord bypasses certain people. We do not put novices in leadership lest they be lifted up with “pride.” There is a particular vulnerability toward pride in new Christian leadership. They may think, “I must be important to this church since they put me on the board after being a Christian for such a short time.”
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 mature believers can nurture them along. New Christians need time for God to chisel, sand, and polish them for ministry.
It is easy to get sidetracked while God prepares us for a mission. It is easy to fix our eyes on something lucrative or self-serving. But we must not let the devil deter us on a tangent. We must keep our eye on the vision.