Open Your Bible
Galatians 1:1-5, Psalm 16:1-11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Colossians 1:9-14
Yesterday I went to visit my husband at his office–a newly constructed, all-glass-exterior building with marble floors and a sense of importance that seemed to demand awkward elevator silence, especially as I stood there with my out-of-place bag of ice cream from the shop across the street.
I stepped out of the elevator and onto his floor, greeted by a kind receptionist who asked me to fill out a form on the tablet on her desk. It asked my name and then for my “host.” I typed in my husband’s name, and out popped a nametag: my name, followed by my host’s. My entrance into the building was guaranteed by his name.
When Paul opens his letter to the Galatians, he goes through the same practice: “Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1). Paul gains entrance into the church by his apostleship, dependent wholly on the person and work of Christ. He establishes his authority not by his own work or identity, but that of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead.
Paul’s identity is the righteousness of Christ, and he repeats it throughout his letters. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). In other letters, he introduces himself as “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1). And in Philippians chapter 1, the apostle refers to himself (as well as Timothy) as a servant of Christ Jesus. Paul fully embraces his new identity because it was given to him through faith in Christ, summing it up in this way:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ…”
— 2 Corinthians 5:17–18, 20
When Paul introduces himself, it is as though he is writing on one of those “Hello! My Name Is” stickers, one that says: “Hello! My name is Paul, and I belong to Christ. Everything I am is because of everything He did.”
Galatians opens with a precious reminder and a challenge to remember: If we are in Christ, then we belong to God, and our identity is now bound up in Christ’s death and resurrection. We are sealed by His Spirit, waiting for the day Jesus returns. And we can trust Him, as the psalmist says, because He is our portion and our cup of blessing (Psalm 16:5). He holds my future in my hands, and the boundaries He has drawn around my life are good for me (v.6).
There are so many days I feel like a hundred pieces of a puzzle, strewn about on the floor just waiting to be put together. I am a wife, mother, employee, friend, volunteer coordinator, chef, sister, daughter, and also somehow sometimes my own person. It is deeply refreshing to remember the truth today—that I am Melanie, through Christ and by the Spirit, a servant of God. From that one identity, everything else should flow, all for His glory.