“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.” – Acts 11: 25-26
Imagine a religious terrorist who actively sought to kill Christians coming to faith in Christ. Many believers might be skeptical – right? Perhaps it’s a front to infiltrate the church and to do more harm? The Apostle Paul was that religious terrorist who after persecuting early believers, came to faith in a radical encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. As you can imagine, the Jewish followers of Jesus were very skeptical and fearful of Paul’s newfound faith. In fact, most didn’t believe that he was a true believer and even refused to associate with him (Acts 9:26).
That’s when Barnabas, the encourager, decided to do something radical. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, northern Syria, and witnessed the incredible growth of the church among both Jews and Gentiles, he remembered Paul’s special God-given call to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. So Barnabas headed out in search of Paul to help him in discipling new believers in Antioch. For the next year, Barnabas and Paul taught and discipled Christians together – and the church flourished.
Barnabas stood up for Paul when he had been shunned by the early believers. He encouraged Paul by believing in him – by trusting that he had really changed. Is there someone you need to vouch for when others are skeptical? Ask God to show you how to be a Barnabas in someone else’s life.