Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly lifewas a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes fromfaith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1 v 1-6)
It seems Paul was always set apart for an important role.
Born in Tarsus, a contemporary of Jesus, a Jew and a Roman citizen, raised as a Pharisee and a student of the highly respected Rabbi Gamaliel.
As a Pharisee Paul followed the laws of Moses and man’s application of the laws in minutia detail.
Paul was passionate for the law of God and any departure from their interpretative code of that law meant he would unleash his anger. This was clearly seen in the way he persecuted the followers of Jesus, going from house to house imprisoning any he could find, he oversaw their ensuing deaths resulting from him forcing them to blaspheme.
But he was wrong. You can have a superiority and be wrong. His Damascus Road sorted that out for him. His distinctiveness changed. He had been a separatist (meaning of ‘Pharisee’) but now he was set apart for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This separatist isn’t focused on denouncing the shameful deeds of others or burning witches at the stake as the Church still does figuratively. But it seeks for the Light of Christ to shine through our lives. To be different not with a new darkness. But to allow the glory of Christ, His love, His beautiful, selfless, sacrificial life to settle into the darkness of people’s lives. To treat people as human beings created in the image of God. To love so that God is seen and to live so that we are not seen. This is the gospel we are set apart for.