Recently I have been reading through the book of Acts and have been marvelling afresh at the early Church. Numbers were being added daily, the manifestation of the supernatural power of God was a regular occurrence and lives were being wonderfully changed, as the gospel of the Kingdom was being preached in its entirety. The demon-oppressed were being delivered. The lame, the blind and the deaf were being healed. People were being baptised and great grace was upon the church (Acts 4:33).
The honeymoon period did not last very long, though. Soon we read about the Apostles standing before the Council and being beaten (Acts 5), Steven being stoned to death (Acts 7) and the rising up of Saul of Tarsus, who arrested and dragged off the Christians to prison. He was greatly feared because of his vehement opposition to the rising Church. Saul saw it as his obligation to stamp out these ‘Jesus followers’ and their insidious doctrine (Acts 8).
We read that Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest the Christians there, when, suddenly, he found himself arrested by God. Thrown off his mount and temporarily blinded, Saul has a God-encounter that would totally change his life. The persecutor of the faith became the proclaimer of the faith, confounding everyone he came in contact with because he was able to powerfully argue that Jesus was indeed the Christ.
But the Christians still feared him and were reluctant to welcome him to the family. ‘But Barnabus took him in, and brought him to the Apostles’ (Acts 9:27). I love those two words, ‘But Barnabus …’ How many of us are indebted to a Mr or Mrs Barnabus, who took us under their wing and dared to believe in us, when others did not. I have had many such people in my life, and I thank God for them. They had eyes to see beyond the obvious shortcomings and immaturities to the person God had made me to be. Not only did they encourage and draw the ‘real me’ to the surface, but they also provided platforms from which I could be a blessing to others. I am forever grateful for the ‘Barnabus’ people in my life and the courage they gave me to be all that God called me to be.
I wonder who the ‘son of encouragement’ is in your life? (Acts 4:36) Have you thanked them lately? If you are like me, there has been a long line of people. Who is God asking you to take under your wing and encourage today? I hear this generation cry, ‘Where are our spiritual big brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers? Who will make a way for us, as we seek to follow Jesus and become the people He called us to be?’ Are you one of the people who will raise their hand, step forward and dare believe in those who are trying to find their place and purpose in God? Who knows whether God may entrust to you a ‘Saul of Tarsus’ – a world changer in the making!
Prayer: Thank You, God, for all those who have taken the time to encourage and support me. I want to be a ‘Barnabus’ to others around me as well. Show me how. Show me who. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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