BARNABAS AND PAUL
Acts 9:26–28; 11:22–26; 15:36–40
With the advent of social media, we can connect with people from all walks of life. There are former childhood friends of mine I have not seen in more than 30 years, but with Facebook, we can catch up and renew a relationship that would have otherwise been lost forever.
Social media also reveals the unbiased reality of the passage of time. I often observe people I have known for a long time change physically, geographically and even philosophically. The person I knew in the past may not be the same person he is today.
So it goes with all of life. People change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. We may never have the same rapport we once enjoyed with others, but that does not mean our times together were unimportant. In the case of Barnabas and Paul, their relationship was complex at times, but it was used mightily by God.
Encourage the one who is a new believer. (9:26–28)
At some point in your life, you will either need an advocate or become one. Even the great Apostle Paul benefited from someone stepping up and helping validate both him and his ministry.
Remember that the infant church feared Paul, and for good reason due to his history of hate and persecution toward believers.
Barnabas (whose name meant “son of encouragement”) led Paul to the disciples and shared the testimony of God’s miraculous calling on his life.
God used Barnabas to build a bridge between the disciples’ fears and God’s plans to spread the message of Christ.
Encourage others to step up and serve the church. (11:22–26)
There is much to be said about those who are not afraid to serve because they are comfortable with who they are and how they are gifted by God. These godly people are not looking for applause; they are looking for avenues. Too many in our churches lack the obedience to follow through with the assignment God has given them because they feel as if they won’t receive the credit they deserve.
Barnabas had one objective: putting people in a position to hear about Jesus. We don’t read where Barnabas was a great speaker, writer or even administrator. However, we do read repeatedly of the constant encouragement he willingly shared.
There is not a person or church alive who couldn’t use more encouragement. Many times, it can be the spark to ignite a passion within your church.
Be prepared for God to eventually lead you down separate paths. (15:36–40)
In one of the more intriguing disagreements in Scripture, Paul and Barnabas chose to take separate paths moving forward.
This is one of the painful parts of the Christian journey. God will put people in your path for one of three lengths of time: for a reason, for a season or for life. Just because you may be divided by time or space from someone you previously served with does not mean God isn’t at work in both of your lives.
God is all about expansion, and He will use methods we do not always understand. As you read this, are you faithfully serving the Lord while encouraging others? Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” My friend, when faced with a fork in your Christian walk, don’t stop following Him!
By Bobby McKay
Pastor of New Liberty Baptist Church in Morton, Mississippi