Welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Our reading today is Galatians 2: 1-5.
Today I will focus on verse 1: ‘Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also…’
As we head into Galatians 2 the context of the passage is still Paul very much defending his role and status as an Apostle – essentially someone trustworthy who has started the churches well and is discipling his people. The accusation levelled at Paul – which we mentioned yesterday, as did Liam Brennan last week – is undermining him and the local church.
Paul’s description of his trip to Jerusalem, some 14 years after his conversion – is to deal with the growing dispute & controversy over the circumcision of non Jewish people with the leaders of the very influential Jerusalem church.
Yet there’s something significant in verse 1 I’d like to unpack: Paul takes Barnabas and Titus along with him to the meeting.
There’s a few reasons for this: Barnabas knows the Jerusalem church; – he has a good relationship with the leaders. Secondly, Barnabas is Paul’s advocate – he’s a peacemaker and someone who has seen Paul’s remarkable gift and decided to get behind him, to serve him. Plus there’s Titus. Paul wants to show him off as an example of someone who he was converted through his mission. In other parts of the New Testament we know that this young man grows close to Paul – like his spiritual father.
There’s a discipleship dynamic here: Barnabas and Titus are both following Paul. For Barnabas it’s a big deal – he’s a leader in his own right but chooses to follow Paul. For Titus he is being invested in – a future leader.
A few weeks ago I went to a Learning Community – it’s a type of conference. We heard lots of speakers – one in particular, a man called Pastor How from Singapore, dubbed Pastor Wow because he is so cool. To cut a long story short – his church grew from meeting in a small apartment to a church of 4000 nearly all under the age of 21. He showed an image – a really simple image that showed how they do discipleship at this church. Standing in front of the huge sound desk was a 9 year boy (standing on a box), next to a teenager – who was mentoring the 9 year old – and then a young adult, early 20s, mentoring the teenager.
There was a wow (well, as much as English people respond at these things) at this visual image. One generation raising up the next.
So as Paul heads to what could be a tricky meeting – he takes his young apprentice and his older apprentice.
He shares with them – they get to see the good, the bad and the ugly of his life.
It’s real, it’s open and it’s how discipleship is done.
We talk about this a lot at STC, so I’m repeating myself here, but discipleship isn’t just the acquisition of information.
What you can’t get from watching your favourite YouTube speaker or listening to a podcast from your favourite Californian church – is to be up and close to the people and ask them questions. See how they live… Great as they are and helpful as they are. You can’t beat seeing how someone lives up close.
What can we learn from this?
Think of the image from Pastor How.
Who are you looking to? Who is showing you the ropes?
Who is looking to you? Who are you showing the ropes to?
How do you do this?
Look to the people who are doing what you are not, and ask – can I take you out for a coffee and ask you some questions? Or can I follow you around Tesco while you do your shopping – I’ll help you out and ask you a question.
Lord, I pray that you may open a door today for someone we can connect with and learn from. And someone we can show the ropes to!
READING: Galatians 2:1-5
Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.