Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad,
and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great
many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Fridays with the Apostle Paul
Barnabas is clearly a critical catalyst to the growth of the Early Church. His love for people and ability to propel them forward with encouragement made him a valued member of the
faith community. Notice that the text says he was a "good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." Who wouldn't want to be connected to someone like that?
But then this well respected man makes a critical decision. He decides to retrieve Saul from the latter's hometown in Tarsus. Saul has been there for quite a while, learning and growing
in his own understanding of God's plan. But Saul remains a controversial figure so this move wouldn't have come without detractors.
But Barnabas saw something in these believers in Antioch. They would accept his friend and provide an environment where his ministry potential could continue to grow. For an entire
year, this church embraced Saul, helping him become the man that would be an even greater catalyst for the kingdom.
Could it be said that people like Saul could come and grow around us? Are we nurturing others in their faith, even those whose past might make such an investment questionable or even
risky? Our task is to make disciples, and while Barnabas is clearly committed to that assignment, he needed a place like Antioch for Saul to flourish. May we, like them, be a place where the purposes of God can grow in others, no matter the previous path they
---Dr. Mike Clarensau serves as Senior Director of the Healthy Church Network
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