Consistent ambivalence is a trait that I have practiced many days. It is easy to say "whatever", "it doesn't matter", or "it makes no difference to me". Most of the time this ambivalence is toward things truly not of great importance (e.g. dinner choices, 'who goes first'). Reading Paul's attitude in this passage shows me times when I should practice this more and differently!
As I posted earlier, Paul displays a divine example of not being a man-pleaser but a God-pleaser. His life had been turn 180 degrees from serving his selfish ambition of being better than others in his legalistic subculture to serving the God who had revealed the truth to him by a visual and personal meeting with Christ.
As a result, he no longer cared so much of what other "important" people thought of his message and lifestyle. He cared primarily of what God said to him and commanded of him. However, he now recounts going to Jerusalem now after 14 years of ministry to confer with Jerusalem Church leaders - John, James, and Peter.
At first glance, I was very confused on how I am to consider my fellow man and Christian in relation to my faith and practice. By God's command, Paul doesn't seek to be commended and affirmed by other men to preach the gospel. But now, by God's command, Paul seeks affirmation of his work in the gospel.
Was he having a mid-life crisis and pit of unbelief? No, but a God motivated and commanded caution from pride and self-deception. The same God who had gloriously "revealed" himself to him and commanded him to preach the gospel now commanded him "by revelation" to make sure he wasn't "running in vain". It was another submission to trust in God.
God used Paul as an example to not be the man-pleaser who looked for everyone's applause at his work in the Gospel. He was not making himself known or popular "to the churches of Judea" with the fact of his new message. He was not using the gospel or christianity as a new place to advance himself and praise himself. Instead, he humbly sought his churches nurturing and appointing (as was noted in a previous post and Acts 13:1-3) and circumspect evaluation of other leaders. God revealed to Paul his weakness and fallibility; he needed others to minister to him (like Paul desires of the Romans and the Philippians in other letters).
In other words, by God's grace, Paul avoids the pitfalls of pride from seeking man's praise and pride from not seeking fellow Christian's wise counsel.
It makes no difference to Paul what men claim to be or what men say of them. He is only concerned with the truthful spread of the Gospel and unity with those who are likewise. Everything else between men, makes little difference.