And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
A lot of people make the Bible into a gushy book full of love and nothing else. But that is not the truth. Jesus often confronted people, he turned over tables, he turned people off with his words. Paul was also a no-nonsense kind of guy. Even though at one time he was one of the influential people, or at least on the fast track to being one, he now thought nothing of earthly influence, not even when it came to the apostles. I don't think he disrespected them, but he did not let their position cause him to place them on a pedestal. They were both charged with sharing the same gospel. Apparently, the apostles felt the same about Paul. They were not in awe of him, but were encouraged when they saw what God was doing through him.
How far we have gotten from this, when preachers are placed on stages and television, and we lap up every word as if it were God himself who were speaking. Yum! Not a hint of bitterness here! I am not saying that God does not speak through preachers who speak the truth, but we have a responsibility in this too. I love that the apostles remind Paul not to forget the poor. Looking at the lifestyles of our current "evangelists," can we say that they have done the same?
I guess I just look for a balance. Preaching truth where my responsibility is to be discerning and be responsible for living truth out for myself. Jesus turned tables because those who had been entrusted with truth abused it. And everyone there just saw it as normal. Perhaps because they had lost tune with the God whom they were worshiping. I don't want to lose that vision.