(11) Guys, I want you to understand where I’m coming from, so I’m going to tell you the story of my journey with the gospel. (12) I received the gospel story not from any mere human storyteller, but from Master Jesus himself.
(13) Of course you already know of my earlier life of militant religiosity. Back then, my whole life was jihad against the Jesus freaks. (14) I was a religious expert, head and shoulders above everyone. I was an “on fire” spirit-filled prayer warrior: “Gimme dat old-time re-lig-ion, it’s good e-nuff for me!”
(15) But my Papa had different plans for me. Out of the sheer kindness of his great heart, he invited me onto a new journey with him. (16) He revealed his Son to me, so that I could tell the whole world about him.
But notice what I did at that point. I didn’t go ask anybody to confirm what Papa had revealed to me. (17) I didn’t go up to Jerusalem to see if the other apostles agreed with me. Instead, I headed straight into the Arabian desert. After my time there, I returned to my home in Damascus. (18) And only then, after three years did I take a trip to Jerusalem to chat with Peter. I stayed with him for 2 weeks, (19) and in that time I didn’t see anybody else except for Jesus’ brother James. (20) Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s the truth, I swear to God. (21) Then I went to Syria and Cilicia, (22) but the churches in Judea still had no idea who I was. (23) All they knew was the rumor: “That guy who was trying to destroy our faith is now preaching it!” (24) People were amazed and grateful at what Papa had done with me.
2.1) Then, 14 years after that, I took another trip up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. The Holy Spirit told me to go, so I went. In a private meeting with the church leaders there, I told them about my message to the Gentiles. We just wanted to verify that we were on the same team. (3) Anyway, Titus and his non-surgically-altered wang were there with me the whole time, and nobody had the slightest problem with it. (4) But some religion-nazi spies had snuck into the meeting to scope out the freedom we have in Master Jesus, so that they could find some way to make us join them in their tedious religion (Yeah, like that’s gonna happen). (5) Anyway, I didn’t give in to them one bit, so that our message would not get tainted with a single drop of their poison. (6) They didn’t influence my message one iota. For that matter, no one at that meeting effected any kind of change in my message. (7) It was clear to them that Papa had sent me to the non-religious and Peter to the religious. (8) The One Triune God has embraced the religious and the non-religious. And it is this God who has sent me and Peter with the One gospel to these two different groups of people. (9) When James and Peter and John recognized the Triune Life at work in me, they welcomed Barnabas and me as valued members of the team. They agreed completely that we should go to the non-religious while they go to the religious. (10) They asked only that I continue taking care of the poor, which I was going to do anyway.
(11) But when Peter came to Antioch and slipped into hypocrisy, I immediately got all up in his face about it. (12) See, he used to hang out with the non-religious people all the time. But that stopped when the religious people were there. He was afraid of what they might think. (13) The others – even Barnabus! – followed his lead. (14) When I saw them acting in this reality-contradicting way, I confronted Peter in front of everybody: “Look, Peter…You’re not religious anymore. You’re just a regular guy now. So how come you’re making people ‘get religion’ before they’re good enough to hang out with you? Who the hell do you think you are?!?”
(15) That’s my story, and I hope it helps you see where I’m coming from. Yes, I’m proud to be Jewish. Being a Jew is a special thing, (16) but we all know that following our religion is not what sets right our relationships with God and the world. That happens only as we rely on Master Jesus. And we DO rely on him to put all things right as the gospel changes us from the inside-out. NO religious act can do that!