Acts 11:24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. (NIV)
I love this description of Barnabas from the Book of Acts. He sounds like a great encourager whose faith attracted others to seek and find Jesus. He is crucially important in the New Testament Church because Barnabas is the one who finds Saul back home in Tarsus and gives him an opportunity to serve Christ among the Gentiles. Up until that point, Saul – who would soon be known as Paul – was not recognized by the Church In Jerusalem as a worthy candidate to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Church leaders still mistrusted Saul because they could not fully believe that he had been converted to Christianity, nor did they forgive him for the years of persecution during which Saul had terrorized Christian congregations from Jerusalem to Damascus.
The great thing about Barnabas was that he was not territorial. He knew that Saul was the right person to accompany him on a new mission to the Gentiles. He restored Saul’s confidence and enabled the old persecutor to find a God-given role in the church. In many ways, Barnabas saved Saul’s life, as well as the subsequent life of Christ’s Church.
I wish that we had more people like Barnabas in Christian churches. Too many church folks throughout the country and across the world are loud, aggressive, and judgmental. Instead of using the gifts of encouragement and compassion which Christ has given to the church, they would rather be forceful and unfeeling, self-righteous and condemnatory. It’s sad to see so much hatred and hostility come from so-called Christians; it’s disappointing to read false statements, lies, and conspiracies from folks who are supposed to represent the truth of God and the love of Christ.
Perhaps God will raise up another Barnabas in our midst, so that we can climb down off our high-horses and humbly seek to live together by loving one another. I hope and pray that this can take place soon, especially as we head into a new year that could potentially divide and diminish our love for one another even further.
Point to ponder: How do I encourage others with my faith? How have I discouraged others with my faith? How can Christ challenge and change me to cherish His loving ways?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You love the unlovely and even heal the unholy. You laid down Your life for the imperfect and died for us sinners. Forgive our foolish pride and false words; set us free from our sinful prejudices and selfish behavior. In Your Holy Name, we humbly ask. Amen.