As we get older, we often shake our heads at the ignorance of our youth and wonder why we were so insular in our younger days. However, despite this awareness it is tempting to behave in a similar fashion, even in church. We stick with what, or more specifically who, we know. Often we rarely venture outside of this “inner circle” in order to bring anyone else in.
Barnabas, known as an encourager, shows us a different approach. In Acts 9, Paul has recently become a follower of Christ. As he previously was a stalwart persecutor of the Church, the disciples are, perhaps understandably, wary of him. Barnabas, however, went and brought Paul to them, sharing with the disciples the story of Paul’s conversion. Later, in Acts 11, he goes purposefully looking for Paul in order to bring him to Antioch and ministers alongside him. It was during this course of ministry, that the word “Christians” was first used to delineate those who followed Christ.
It’s interesting to think about what could have happened had Barnabas never ventured outside of his “normal” crowd. His willingness to obey even beyond perhaps what was “comfortable” and “convenient” was instrumental in building the foundation of Paul’s future ministry. It was because he was willing to go after Paul, that Paul became a powerful instrument in the pursuit of others for Christ’s Kingdom.
And who knows, if we’re willing to leave the comfort of our crowd in order to go after someone for the sake of Christ and His Church, maybe God will use our obedience to accomplish something powerful as well.