“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. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.“ (Acts 11:25-26, NIV)
I love this little passage because it is so descriptive of what the church should be. I mean, look at the simple but important stuff here.
The church in Antioch had grown and was in need of discipleship. Barnabas was a great guy, but he wasn’t a teacher. So he went and found one. Part of leading is knowing your strengths. A bigger part is knowing the strengths of others. The kingdom and the church will grow when we can humbly elevate others before ourselves for the good of the body.
Barnabas had to go find Saul. Two things here. Saul wasn’t out promoting himself or his ministry…he had to be found. Secondly, Saul was a risk. He had become a Christian, but still wasn’t trusted by most in the church. Barnabas took a risk bringing him to Antioch…and it paid huge dividends. Where would we be today if Barnabas hadn’t stuck his neck out…? Everything worth anything in life involves risk.
Finally, we are Christians. The word means “little christs” and was originally a term of derision placed on the church by outsiders. “Ha ha…look at those little messiahs!” The church understood the slander, but took it as a badge of honor. That’s why I’m not one of those church-leaders looking to change our name… “Christ followers” is a term that’s all the rage now because it seems less offensive than “Christian.” Perhaps, but it misses the point entirely.
My last point: this Sunday I will be talking about David at Ziklag…the worst day ever (you can read about it in 1 Sam. 30). How do you survive your worst day ever? My guess is you know someone going through a tough time. Would you take a page from Barnabas’ life and go find them and bring them on Sunday? God has a word for them!